SINGAPORE: While many chose to celebrate the New Year Countdown with fireworks at Marina Bay, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), opted for a different approach to bid farewell to the last day of 2023.
In a recent Facebook post, he shared that rather than joining the usual parties, he and his wife decided to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of Singapore far from the bustling Marina Bay area.
Accompanied by a close friend, they embarked on a leisurely journey aboard the No. 7 bus, commencing their ride from Clementi Interchange and traversing the eastern regions of Singapore until reaching the Bedok Bus Terminal.
The 83-year-old recounted the approximately 2-hour journey, describing the bus as packed with mostly foreign passengers and a handful of locals.
“A few times during the ride, the bus driver had to raise his voice to tell passengers to move to the back. There were also some PA announcements made, but they were sadly, mostly inaudible, ” he added.
Upon disembarking at Bedok, they mingled with the lively crowd and secured seats at the hawker centre, indulging in satay, braised duck, and refreshing sugar cane drinks.
Despite the absence of fireworks or organized festivities, the ambience at the food court and mall exuded an infectious sense of enjoyment amongst the crowd.
Later, Dr Tan, accompanied by his wife and friend, boarded the MRT train back to Clementi.
He highlighted the issue of overcrowding on the train but also shared a heartwarming encounter where a compassionate foreign worker offered him a seat designated for seniors.
“I watched with pride as passengers politely made way for a lady on a motorised wheelchair at the next stop.”
Arriving safely at their destination, Dr. Tan expressed contentment with their chosen method to conclude 2023 – simple yet immensely enjoyable.
“For the new year, I truly wish for happiness, peace and prosperity for our nation and for our world!” Dr Tan concluded.
Dr Tan in May 2023 stated his readiness to run in the upcoming GE
Dr Tan Cheng Bock, a former People’s Action Party (PAP) backbencher, established the alternative party PSP in March 2019.
During the 2020 General Election, the PSP fielded candidates across nine constituencies, vying for a total of 24 seats. Dr Tan himself contested in the West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
Emerging victorious in a closely contested battle against the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) at that time, the PAP team, led by S. Iswaran and Desmond Lee, only secured 51.69 per cent of the votes.
On 27 May 2023, Dr Tan stated his readiness to run in the upcoming 2025 GE, as he never shies away from a fight.
“I always say, as long as I am relevant, I’ll be there. I never run away from a fight, and 2025 is a very challenging (fight).”
“I am so far still very, very prepared for (GE)2025,” he told the press during a press conference.
Speculation suggests that in the aftermath of an extramarital affair scandal involving former Parliamentary Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and former Tampines MP Cheng Li Hui, the ongoing investigation against Transport Minister S Iswaran and the Ridout Road controversy involving Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, alternative parties might have an increased likelihood of challenging PAP strongholds.
Of notable importance is the prevailing group sentiment regarding concerns about the cost of living, inflation, housing, and job insecurity, which significantly influences the ground-level support for the ruling party.
On 20 August last year, PM Lee revealed intentions to step down in favour of Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, potentially around the PAP’s 70th anniversary on 21 November 2024, although an exact timeline was not disclosed.
Despite the absence of a clear timeline, PM Lee’s announcement suggests a likelihood of the General Election occurring in 2024, possibly before the party’s anniversary in November.
In response to the PAP’s dominant 2/3 majority in Parliament, Singapore’s political landscape has witnessed increased manoeuvring, intensifying grassroots outreach efforts, and witnessing alternative parties forming political alliances — both formal and informal — to contest in the upcoming GE.
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