Tan Cheng Bock may run in next GE, hopes Iswaran’s departure helps PSP win West Coast GRC , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Tan Cheng Bock may run in next GE, hopes Iswaran’s departure helps PSP win West Coast GRC

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chairman Tan Cheng Bock said he may run in West Coast GRC in the next general election.

And he hoped the departure of former transport minister S. Iswaran, who faces 27 charges, including two charges of corruption, would help the PSP’s chances.

Dr Tan, 83, led the PSP in West Coast GRC in 2020, narrowly losing to the People’s Action Party (PAP) team, led by Iswaran, which secured the five-member constituency with 51.68 per cent of the vote. 

It was the PAP’s narrowest win in the 2020 General Election.

Iswaran was an MP for West Coast GRC since 1997 before he resigned in a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Jan 16. He was charged on Jan 18.

After a walkabout on Jan 27 at West Coast Market Square, Dr Tan told the media: “If you believe in active ageing, I shouldn’t retire, right? Because if you all think that age is not a problem, I’ll be around.”

Pressed again if he plans to run in the next election, which must be held by November 2025, Dr Tan said: “I never say no.”

Asked whether Iswaran’s departure from the group representation constituency presented an opportunity for his party, Dr Tan said the PSP had been working the ground since the 2020 General Election, before the corruption probe against Iswaran surfaced in July 2023, and it would continue to do so.

Dr Tan said: “Of course, we hope that (this) will help us, but I think it all depends on the electorate, how we perform, and now we have a (presence in) Parliament for them to assess us.”

Dr Tan (centre), 83, led the PSP in West Coast GRC in 2020, narrowly losing to the PAP team, led by former transport minister S. Iswaran. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

PSP’s vice-chairwoman, Ms Hazel Poa, acknowledged that there had been talk of Iswaran’s criminal case working in favour of the PSP, but said it would be a mistake for them to believe so.

Ms Poa, who is a Non-Constituency MP (NCMP), said: “In elections, there are many, many factors affecting the results. And it will be complacent of us to actually think that just because of this one incident, we will have a better chance of getting into Parliament.”

She added that much depends on what the PAP does and who they send in to replace Iswaran.

In a reference to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s East Coast Plan during the 2020 General Election, she said: “They might come up with the West Coast Plan.”

Volunteers from the PAP’s West Coast Branch were also spotted at the hawker centre on Jan 27, including acting branch chairwoman, Ms Chua Wei-Shan, who Dr Tan said he exchanged pleasantries with.

PSP secretary-general Leong Mun Wai told the media the party would ramp up its walkabouts and house visits to West Coast GRC, from a monthly to weekly basis. 

Mr Leong, who is also an NCMP, said the goal was to convince residents to trust his party to run the town council better than the incumbent.

He said: “At the national level, we are able to bring up policies that will improve their lives in general. I think that is the most important; whether we are credible enough to have gained their trust.”

Dr Tan was also asked if he regretted supporting presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian during the 2023 presidential election in a personal capacity.

Mr Tan Kin Lian finished last, winning 13.87 per cent of the votes, compared with President Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s landslide 70.4 per cent. Mr Ng Kok Song came in second with 15.72 per cent.

Dr Tan said: “I think there is a principle involved. I wanted somebody who is independent, who is not linked to a political party, and that to me is very important.

“Or else, it’s just a repeat every year, the same group of people running the country.” 

Progress Singapore PartyTAN CHENG BOCKLEONG MUN WAIHazel PoaWest Coast GRC