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Progress Singapore Party

Tan Cheng Bock Leong Mun Wai Hazel Poa

Progress Singapore Party
Malay nameParti Kemajuan Singapura
Chinese name新加坡前进党
Xīnjiāpō Qiánjìndǎng
Tamil nameசிங்கப்பூர் முன்னேற்றக் கட்சி
Ciṅkappūr muṉṉēṟṟa kaṭci
AbbreviationPSP
ChairpersonWang Swee Chuang
Secretary-GeneralTan Cheng Bock
FounderTan Cheng Bock
Founded28 March 2019 (2019-03-28)
Headquarters170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, #14-04, Singapore 588179
Youth wingPSP Youth Catalyst
Women WingWomen Wing
MembershipIncrease 2000[1]
Colours     Red      White
Slogan"For Country, For People"
Parliament
2 / 104
Website
psp.org.sg

The Progress Singapore Party (abbreviation: PSP) is a political party in Singapore. The party was founded in 2019 by former People's Action Party Member of Parliament Tan Cheng Bock and 11 other members. They, together with the brother of the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Hsien Yang, expressed that the current PAP leadership has "lost its way" and deviated from its founding principles by its founding fathers.[2][3]

During the 2020 general election, the party garnered 48% of the votes in West Coast GRC, paving the way for them to claim 2 Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats in the 14th Parliament of Singapore.

History & political developments

Founding

The party was officially registered on 28 March 2019 after receiving approval from Singapore's Registry of Societies. The initial formation included 12 Singaporeans, including some former People's Action Party's politicians.[4] Party founder Tan Cheng Bock explained that the forming of the political party was a result of an erosion of good governance in terms of transparency, independence and accountability.[5][6] The party also cited ensuring accountability from the People's Action Party and job creation as their main focus.[7] Dr Tan had previously contested the 2011 Singaporean Presidential Election, in which he won 34.85% of the popular vote but lost by a small margin of 7269 votes to former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan.

Activities

An event to commemorate the party's launch was planned at the Singapore Expo on 15 June 2019. However, police permits required for the event were not approved in time.[8] The event was postponed to 3 August 2019 and was re-located to the Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel in Singapore, attracting an audience of 1,000 people. The event was also live-streamed[9] to twenty-five thousand viewers online.[10][11]

On 10 September 2019, the PSP launched an event series called "PSP Talks", in which party members invited thought leaders and subject matter experts to share their insights and ideas on important national issues and policies. The first forum was conducted on 10 September 2019 and ex-GIC chief economist Yeoh Kam Leong was invited to speak about poverty in Singapore and the policy gaps in Singapore's social safety nets.[12]

The second PSP Talks forum was held on 19 December 2019. Veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon was invited to speak on “Politics and Planning: The Future of Singapore". He discussed some of the problems Singapore faced, such as how meritocracy has devolved into elitism and the obsolete town planning system. He also talked about the possibility of Singapore having five different elections for five local governments, each governing a Community Development Council and a central government elected from the five local governments.[13]

On 19 October 2019, Tan led party members, volunteers and members of the public to blood banks for a PSP community blood donation drive called “Giving The Gift of Life”, citing a nationwide shortage of type O blood. Tan also encouraged Singaporeans to donate blood regularly.[14]

On 17 January 2020, at its new year dinner, the party announced a reshuffling of leadership. Two central executive committee members (CEC) stepped down and five new members joined the party's CEC. Tan said "I am looking for a team to mentor, so many have stepped forward... PSP is now managed by a team. It is not just the Tan Cheng Bock party, it is the people's party." The party's theme song "March of Change" and party mascot "Otica" was also unveiled.[15]

On 27 January 2020, PSP officially opened its new headquarters at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. Tan mentioned that the it will be for the long haul, and that the headquarters will be used for hosting party talks and seminars.[16]

Controversy

On 1 May 2020, acting on hear-say, potential candidate Daniel Teo was expelled from the party after a video he produced was leaked saying that the party had "been infiltrated and funded by foreign sources". The party denied this. Among the PSP members Teo accused was Ravi Philemon. Teo later admitted that the allegations made in his video are complete without foundation and acted in his own capacity. He apologised unreservedly to Philemon and other members named in the video.[17] Philemon resigned from the party on 12 May 2020, after he got the unreserved apology from Teo, but refused to elaborate on the reasons for the decision.[18]

In response to this incident and the departure of other PSP members, Tan said that "there are many waiting to join us" and it is not an issue for the party.[19]

On 31 May 2020, Philemon was reported to have filed an application to set up a new political party in Singapore called Red Dot United along with Michelle Lee.[20]

2020 Singaporean General Election

Pre-election

On 29 September 2019, Tan led about 300 party members and volunteers in PSP's first official island-wide walkabout. The walkabout called "29 on 29" was conducted at 29 constituencies (16 Group Representative Constituencies and 13 Single Member Constituencies).[21] PSP assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee said that the PSP sent out a friendly note as a form of courtesy to let the other opposition parties know of its walkabout plans and that the PSP will continue to work with other opposition parties and wishes to maintain a good relationship with them. Tan did not rule out the possibility of having an opposition coalition for the next General Election. Ravi Philemon (former Singapore People's Party's member) noted that Tan has been accepted as the leader of the opposition by the other opposition parties.[22]

In October 2019, the party put out calls for volunteers to join the party as polling and counting agents, ahead of other political parties. The party regarded both play an important role in the electoral process.[23]

On 4 November 2019, PSP called for an opposition alliance meeting which representatives from seven opposition political parties attended. It was a private meeting. According to Tan, the meeting was to discuss future plans and to get to the members of the various parties to get to know one another.[24]

On 9 November 2019, Progress Singapore Party began its second island-wide walkabout. About 220 party members and volunteers took buses and trains to travel around the island.[25]

On 12 January 2020, the party had their second door-to-door house visits at West Coast GRC which was led by Tan and joined by more than 200 members and volunteers. The event involved 22 teams and covered 50 residential blocks. A walkabout of about 40 members was also conducted in 2019 within the same GRC.[26]

Pre-nomination day events

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong's brother, Lee Hsien Yang, joined the PSP as a member on 24 June 2020, but did not contest in the forthcoming election, claiming that the PAP had "lost its way".[27]

The Reform Party has accused the PSP for not living up to an agreement so that they could avoid a three-way fight with the PAP in Yio Chu Kang SMC. However, the PSP responded that no such agreement existed.[28]

Final result

On 10 July 2020, despite posing strong challenges in among the nine constituencies and fielding the largest slate of candidates this election with 24, none of the contested seats ended up victorious;[29] however, the party that came close to winning was West Coast GRC which Tan lead the team, being defeated to the ruling People's Action Party team led by Communications and Information minister S Iswaran in a 51.69%-48.31% of the votes.[30] Due to the best result among non-elect candidates and 10 oppositions having successfully elected (Workers' Party winning Aljunied GRC, Hougang SMC and Sengkang GRC), they were entitled two seats for the Non-constituency Member of Parliament to fulfill the 12-opposition minimum.[31] Their vote share was higher than the national average (38.76%), having garnered 40.85% of the votes based on the contested constituencies, and 10.18% based on the overall popular vote cast.[32][failed verification] Prior to the results, Tan earlier revealed that he will decline taking up the NCMP position calling it as a 'ploy', but allows decision to be made by the other team members.[33] On 14 July, PSP revealed Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai as the two members who would be taking up the NCMP seats.[34]

Post-Election

Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai are stepping down as office bearers to focus on their NCMP duties. Both will remain as CEC members and be involved in the party's activities. Francis Yuen will be taking over as Assistant General-Secretary, while the Vice-Chairman post remains vacant.[35]

Organisation and structure

Central Executive Committee

Officer-holder Position Took Office

Wang Swee Chuang

Chairman 28 March 2019

Tan Cheng Bock

Secretary-General 28 March 2019
Francis Yuen Assistant Secretary-General 17 July 2020

S Nallakaruppan

Treasurer 28 March 2019

Wong Chow Seng

Assistant Treasurer 28 March 2019

Michael Chua Teck Leong

Organising Secretary 28 March 2019

Leong Mun Wai

Parliament Secretariat 4 August 2020

Hazel Poa

Parliament Secretariat 4 August 2020

Ong Seow Yong

Head of Comms & Media 4 August 2020

Lee Yung Hwee

Head of Conduct & Discipline 28 March 2019

Lee Chiu San

Conduct & Discipline 28 March 2019

Peggie Chua

Member 28 March 2019

Abdul Rahman

Member 28 March 2019

Andrew Ng

Member 17 January 2020

Alex Tan

Member 28 March 2019

Singam

Member 28 March 2019

Tan Chika

Member 17 January 2020

List of Secretaries-General

No Name Took Office Left Office Tenure
1 Tan Cheng Bock 28 March 2019 Incumbent -

List of Chairpersons

No Name Took Office Left Office Tenure
1 Wang Swee Chuang 28 March 2019 Incumbent

List of former CEC Members

No Name Took Office Left Office Tenure
1 Michelle Lee Juen[36] 28 March 2019 5 March 2020 343 days

Current Members of Parliament

No Name Constituency Remarks
1 Leong Mun Wai NCMP Contested in West Coast GRC in the 2020 elections but defeated, garnering only 48.31% of the votes
2 Hazel Poa Koon Koon

Issues/proposals raised

Budget

In Feb 2020, PSP announced its first public policy proposal which includes: a) Broader relief package for businesses, b) Expansionary budget to tide through the current crises, c) Fiscal budget is not a goodie-bag, d) Building a sustainable economy, e) No to GST hike, f) Taxpayers should not be burdened for large infrastructure projects and g) A prudent approach to expenditures.[37]

PSP welcomes the Government's immediate short-term relief to assist Singaporeans and local companies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The party also called for a more "broad-based" approach in helping the transport, retail, and food and beverage industries and conducting a review of the education system. The party is in favour of more permanent plans rather than short-term occasional handouts.[38]

Climate Change

On climate change, Tan Cheng Bock has suggested that government and government-linked companies should provide incentives for renewable energy usage.[39]

Employment of Foreign Manpower

Tan Cheng Bock has promised to call for the review of the India–Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), one of the terms which allow the free movement of Indian professionals in 127 sectors to enter and work in Singapore. He said that there is a need to ensure job priority for Singaporeans and CECA has brought a lot of unhappiness among Singaporean professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who feel vulnerable in their jobs. He calls for the government to publish a balance sheet for CECA, to show how Singapore and Singaporeans have benefited from this agreement, how many local jobs have gone to Indian professionals and how many Singaporeans have gone to India.[40]

According to the PSP's manifesto published for the 2020 Singaporean General Election, the PSP wishes to introduce a quota for the number of Employment Passes and to lower the quota for the number of S-Passes and Work Permits. The manifesto also states that the dependence on foreign labour in Singapore has caused problems such as congestion, social strains and depressed wages. By curbing what the PSP describes as the easy supply of foreign manpower, they hope to encourage employers to invest in equipment or processes for higher productivity.

Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA)

PSP issued a statement on POFMA, stating that the POFMA does not measure up to standards of transparency and accountability and when news involved the government, it also fails the standard of independence. The party views that POFMA should be the prerogative of the Courts of Singapore.[41] The PSP's manifesto released for the 2020 Singaporean General Election states that POFMA should be reviewed.

Central Provident Fund

The PSP wants Medishield Life premiums to be paid for by the Government. They are currently paid for using Medisave.

Small and Medium Enterprises

The PSP wants to provide assistance to local SMEs by giving them priority in public sector procurements, investing in local SMEs and encouraging cooperation amongst them, direct support to them to restructure their businesses and expand overseas, and reducing business costs for them.

Taxes

In their manifesto for the 2020 Singapore General Election, the PSP stated that they wanted to freeze tax and fee increases until 2025.

Racial harmony

In response to a video by entertainer Preeti Nair (known by her monicker 'Preetipls' and her brother Subhas Nair) which lambasted the use of racial brownface in an advertisement, then-Central Executive Committee member Michelle Lee stated that although the siblings had used inappropriate language in her video, she found the police response in the aftermath to be 'high-handed' and 'harsh'.[42] Lee acknowledged the video by the siblings reflected grievances that the minority races held in Singapore, and should not be ignored.

The unity of Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion was one of the principles which the PSP said guided their social policies in their 2020 manifesto.

Voting age

During the party launch ceremony, Michelle Lee called for the lowering of voting age from the current 21 to 18 in line with international standards. In her speech, she criticised the current government policy on voting age as being 'behind the times'.[43]

Alternative voices in Parliament

The PSP's 2020 manifesto states that the over-dominance of the People's Action Party, which has consistently held over 90% of the seats in the Parliament of Singapore, should be reduced. They want stronger alternative voices in Parliament offering different views and suggestions. More alternative voices in Parliament is one of the PSP's priorities in political development stated in the manifesto.

Public Housing

One of the PSP's priorities laid out in their 2020 manifesto was to address HDB lease decay. They hope to provide en-bloc redevelopment for all old HDB flats, peg new flat prices to income levels and bring down housing costs for young Singaporeans to make them free to pursue their entrepreneurial goals.

Income Inequality

The PSP's 2020 manifesto states that they hope to reduce inequality and improve social mobility. It also states that they wish to exempt basic necessities from the Goods and Services Tax, which is a regressive tax that disproportionately affects the lower-income.

Other issues

Lee commented on the high ministerial salary keep ministers in their ivory towers which prompted them afraid to take risks, disagree or lose their jobs. The highest-paid minister earns approximately 43 times the average Singaporean and an entry-level minister earns half of that. The PSP's 2020 manifesto states that ministerial salaries should be cut and pegged to the median income. They believe this is a form of personal sacrifice.

Michelle Lee also pointed out that more Singaporean students are turned away from tertiary education and the government spends almost $130 million on foreign students' scholarships.[44]

Electoral performance

Election Seats up for election Seats contested by party Seats won by walkover Contested seats won Contested seats lost Total seats won Change Total votes Share of votes Popular vote Resulting Government Party leader
2020 93 24 0 0 24
0 / 93
Steady 253,459 40.85% 10.18% No seats
(+2 NCMPs)
Tan Cheng Bock

See also

References

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