SINGAPORE: Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock on Friday (Jan 18) announced his return to politics, saying he has filed an application to form a new political party.
Dr Tan headed a group of "12 concerned Singaporeans, including some ex-PAP (People’s Action Party) cadres" who on Wednesday filed the application with the Registry of Societies, said the 78-year-old in a media release.
The names of the 11 other applicants were not mentioned. A spokesperson from Dr Tan's media team said he cannot share their names at this stage.
The party will be called the Progress Singapore Party, and is intended to be an "added voice in Parliament".
"Over the years a group of us have been walking the ground, meeting many Singaporeans from all walks of life," said Dr Tan. "We held group discussions and conversations with many, listening to their concerns, hearing their fears and feeling their pain.
"We felt a sense of duty to come forward and help address the issues in a more formal setting like Parliament. So we decided to form a political party to be an added voice in Parliament."
This decision to strike out on their own was not an easy one, Dr Tan elaborated in a Facebook post.
He said that he had studied many options with his team, including joining an existing opposition party, taking over an existing opposition party and running independently.
"I want to thank all those who made such generous offers," he said. "I considered them all seriously and it was a difficult decision, but I feel it is the right one."
"Though we are setting up a new party, we still look forward to working with others in the opposition who are passionate about putting country first – before either party or self."
Dr Tan added that at the age of 78, he has a "short window" that he intends to use mentoring and developing future parliamentarians who will "work for the good of our nation".
"We want to build a compassionate and truly democratic Singapore where good values and people matter," he said. "Freedom of choice and free speech without fear must be defended."
Dr Tan said he and his team are waiting for approval from the Registry of Societies and once approval is granted, a press conference will be held to detail the party's objectives, vision and mission.
In response to Channel NewsAsia's queries, a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson said the Registry of Societies received the application to register the Progress Singapore Party on Jan 16.
"The average processing time for a registration application is about two months. The Registry of Societies is not able to provide any other information about the application," said the spokesperson.
"The application requirements for a political party are similar to those for most other societies, but in addition, in particular, its membership is restricted to Singapore citizens only.”
Dr Tan, who was a Member of Parliament for 26 years, ran unsuccessfully for President in 2011. In March 2016, he announced his intention to run again, but amendments to the Constitution precluded him from doing so.
Dr Tan had also mounted a legal challenge to the Government’s decision to reserve the last Presidential election for Malay candidates. The Court of Appeal dismissed his application.