PSP fields biggest opposition slate, A-team in West Coast
Party chief Tan Cheng Bock viewed as a 'formidable candidate' by PAP, say analysts
The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) emerged from Nomination Day as one of the most prominent opposition parties here, fielding the most candidates of any opposition party and having its A-team in West Coast prompt the People's Action Party to reinforce its own slate.
Despite being set up just a year ago, the party is contesting nine constituencies, or 24 of the 93 seats up for grabs.
It has not been shy about its ambitions.
Assistant-secretary general Leong Mun Wai said last Friday: "Dr Tan (Cheng Bock) always mentioned that he wanted to mentor the next generation of politicians for Singapore...
"He said one day, PSP will become the Government, so we have to work hard towards that."
The party has repeatedly urged voters to deny the PAP a two-thirds majority in Parliament in the polls on July 10, taking a line firmer than the one from the Workers' Party, who says denying the PAP a super majority is a medium-term goal.
The PAP's decision to move Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee from Jurong GRC is a sign of the seriousness with which the PAP considers the threat of PSP.
Mr Lee, 43, will join Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, 58, in West Coast GRC to lead a PAP team against what has been dubbed the PSP's A-team, helmed by Dr Tan himself.
Dr Tan, 80, was the PAP MP for Ayer Rajah from 1980 to 2006 before the ward was merged with the five-member constituency.
When asked at the Nan Hua High School nomination centre yesterday if he felt Mr Lee's move was due to the perceived threat posed by the PSP, Dr Tan said: "I'm not going to question why they did that. But if they say I (am) somebody quite good, quite strong, so they are trying to put all their heavyweights to come to West Coast, well, that's good."
Political analyst Loke Hoe Yeong said the move is indication that the ruling party sees Dr Tan as a formidable candidate, though he was unsure about the extent of the veteran's influence.
Former PAP MP Inderjit Singh similarly said the outcome in West Coast could determine the future of the PSP.
"The PSP's best chance is to win West Coast, but I know the PAP is also ready to go all out to win. We can expect PM Lee spending time campaigning (there)."
The fact that the PSP has been able to attract a mix of professionals, entrepreneurs and former military men helps project an image that it is not just a one-man party, said Mr Singh.
Dr Chong Ja Ian, associate professor at the National University of Singapore's political science department, said the PSP is different from other new parties as it appears better resourced in terms of personnel and finances, and has individuals with experience engaging in grassroots, campaigning, and parliamentary work.
"If they have the ability to contest multiple seats, I do not see why they would want or need to hold back. Doing so can also establish the PSP as a serious political party that may have staying power beyond one election cycle," he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: FABIAN KOH, LIM MIN ZHANG