GE2020: The Progress Singapore Party
GE2020: Voting for the first time and knowing next to nothing about the various political parties in Singapore? Get to know them and their new candidates in our General Election (GE) series.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PARTY
Founded by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, a former Member of Parliament (MP) of the People’s Action Party (PAP)
Dr Tan was a PAP MP for Ayer Rajah for 26 years and contested in the 2011 Presidential Election, narrowly losing to Dr Tony Tan
Launched in July 2019, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is making its debut at the General Election (GE) of 2020
Dr Tan Cheng Bock had declined multiple invitations by opposition chiefs to lead an alliance
Between March and May 2020, the party was hit by at least four resignations and expulsions. Dr Tan Cheng Bock played down the departures and said that the party wants members “to do something for the country and not for themselves”
Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is a member
Will be fielding the largest slate of candidates among 11 opposition parties
NEW CANDIDATES UNVEILED SO FAR
- Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 80
Dr Tan was a PAP MP for Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency for 26 years — from 1980 to 2006. In his last election as a PAP candidate in GE2001, he won with 88 per cent of the vote against a Democratic Progressive Party candidate, and notched the highest margin of victory among all MPs that year. In May 2011, he resigned from the PAP to contest in the 2011 Presidential Election, in which he narrowly lost to Dr Tony Tan by 0.35 per cent. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is his long-time friend.
- Mr Leong Mun Wai, 60
He is the party’s assistant secretary-general. The chief executive officer of investment firm Timbre Capital was an overseas merit scholar who graduated as a top economics student from the Hitotsubashi University in Japan and previously worked at sovereign wealth fund GIC, Mitsubishi Bank, Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch Hong Kong. He said he is applying his management and financial knowledge to draw up sound policies that will make a significant difference to Singapore.
“Today, we think our society and economy have been heading in the wrong direction for a while. Compassion is fast diminishing. What’s the use of having a first class economy, but (we remain) second class or even third class citizens,” he said.
Mr Francis Yuen, 70
Mr Yuen was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Singapore Armed Forces. He has worked in ST Aerospace and other global companies such as Honeywell and Ingersoll Rand. He is a member of PSP’s central executive committee. In the coming GE, he said that he would address the following issues: The rising cost of living, Singapore’s economic structure, and transparency and accountability in governance.
“We need free contest of ideas and room for alternative solutions to serve the interests of our people. I want to be a strong voice in Parliament to help push these decisions.”
Ms Gigene Wong, 54
Ms Wong held roles in multinational corporations in China for the last 20 years, being the former chief executive officer of Gulf Oil China and chief finance officer of Foshan Electrical and Lighting Co. She wants to “speak up for all Singaporeans” on topics such as the rising cost of living and education.
She said that she had heeded a call by Dr Tan Cheng Bock to return to Singapore and enter politics. She added that her time away from Singapore did not pose a challenge to her understanding of the societal issues affecting the country.
While she was away, she constantly kept up with news from Singapore and when she took leave, she would return home.
“For me, my career, I already achieved what I want… So I think I want to come back (from China) and do something that is more meaningful.”
Ms Hazel Poa, 50
Ms Poa was in the public service, having served in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Division, among others. She is now in the education industry and owns five education centres and a private school. She is vice-chairman at PSP, and was formerly secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party (NSP). She is the only one among the six with experience as a candidate, having contested Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in 2011 under the NSP banner. She hopes to see the education system and political landscape “embrace and respect different ideas and paths”.
“I want to contribute towards building a stronger opposition over the shorter term because a stronger opposition will push the ruling party to be stronger and more responsive to the needs of the people, and that will be good for Singapore.”
Mr Sri Nallakaruppan, 56
Mr Nallakaruppan is a chartered accountant registered with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants. He is working as an investment specialist in capital markets and has 25 years of experience. He is the treasurer at PSP. He said that he would be “sincere and willing to work hard to uplift the lives of fellow Singaporeans”.
“I became a founding member because I believed in (Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s) idea of a more caring Singapore, and it ties in with what I truly believe in… Singapore deserves a better life, a better future, and a better voice in Parliament.”
Mr Bradley Bowyer, 53
Mr Bowyer works in film, television and theatre. He has been involved in the political scene since 2011, being a former member of the Peoples Voice party. Being vocal on social media, he said that he is “stepping up from behind the keyboard” to be part of the team he believes has “an inspiring vision for Singapore”.
“I want to see a 21st century nation with servant leaders working for citizens — citizens who are respected and do not just survive but thrive,” he said. “I want to have the essence of the old Singapore back — a Singapore with heart — while moving and progressing in a new and modern direction.”
Mr Muhammad Taufik Supan, 40
Mr Taufik is an information technology professional who comes from a middle-income family. He used to take on ad hoc jobs to pay for his tertiary education, and now he aims to champion the causes of underprivileged Singaporeans.
“I have to be that catalyst of change to make life better for Singaporeans especially to those underprivileged and low income,” he said. “PSP provides the most meaningful platform for me to do this work.”
Dr Tan Meng Wah, 56
Dr Tan is a former research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, a think-tank at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He had done extensive research on income inequality and the rent-seeking policies of the Government, and is now an industry consultant teaching at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), for its Master of Science in Technopreneurship & Innovation programme.
“My concern is not inequality. Inequality is not what drove me to join politics. What has driven me to join politics is inequity. The worst thing in this case is that in other countries, the inequity is caused by market forces. But in Singapore, it is driven by government policies,” he said.
Ms Kayla Low, 43
Ms Low is a finance professional running a group of 11 Singapore and four overseas companies spanning retail, manufacturing, transportation and travel. Before she became a chartered accountant, the mother of three children aged between 13 and 20 used to be an officer with the Singapore Prison Services. She said that she will advocate for greater support for the needy and underprivileged, as well as for small- and medium-sized enterprises that are suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"What differentiates me from the typical 'PAP type' of candidates? Firstly, I am not a 'yes man', not a scholar and not an elite. My life was difficult. I had gone through hardship. I feel the ground well," she said.
Dr Ang Yong Guan, 65
Dr Ang is a psychiatrist who had contested in the last two GEs under two different parties: The Singapore Democratic Party in 2011 and the Singaporeans First party in 2015. Before he joined the opposition, he was a community leader at Kembangan constituency, where he helped its then-MP George Yeo for more than 15 years, including serving as chairman of the Punggol Community Club and as secretary of a Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
"I see myself as a psychiatrist, going in, hoping to introduce another set of skills — a soft skill set — to empower Singaporeans and tell them that they don’t have to fear... And to tell the Government to listen more. Yes, you are the majority. Don’t ignore the minority. Include them. You want an inclusive, progressive and compassionate society.”
Mr Harish Pillay, 60
Mr Pillay is the head of community architecture and leadership at IT firm Red Hat and its chief technology architect. He is also an adjunct professor at NTU. He wants to accelerate the transformation of Singapore into a Smart Nation with “first-class living standards” and jobs for generations of Singaporeans.
“We cannot always be running this country based on economic growth. There has to be a better story behind it. Unfortunately, there only seems to be a single narrative, and I would like to be part of the alternative narrative to push the narrative to an area where we also look at better, diverse and inclusive ideas.”
Mr Choo Shaun Ming, 23
Mr Choo is a third-year law undergraduate studying at the National University of Singapore. The Raffles Institution alumnus said that he stepped forward as he is concerned about job security and satisfaction in the workforce today, and wants to play a part in securing a “brighter future for millennials”.
“In 1996, Lee Kuan Yew said, ‘There’s a glorious rainbow that beckons those with the spirit of adventure. To the young and to the not so old, I say, look at that horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it.’
“When young people like myself look out into the horizon, we see that the rainbow he spoke of doesn’t exist anymore.”
Mr Abas Kasmani, 66
Mr Abas is a workplace safety senior trainer with more than 40 years of management, coaching, training, facilitating and advisory experience. He wants a compassionate Singapore and is willing to render a helping hand to Singaporeans who encounter hardships or illnesses that require costly or prolonged treatment.
“When you want to serve, you got to serve from the bottom of your heart. Different kinds of people you will come across, different ideas, it doesn’t matter. The beauty is nobody is perfect.”
Ms Wendy Low Wei Ling, 43
Ms Loh is an intellectual property and technology lawyer at Eldan Law LLP. She has advocated for women issues with organisations in both Singapore and Hong Kong, and provides pro-bono legal assistance to domestic workers who are victims of abuse. She also volunteers with non-governmental organisations to distribute food to the homeless in Singapore. Ms Loh hopes to use her experience in intellectual property and technology to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore go global.
"I believe that law comes with a very unique disposition. We are always thinking of the injustices of the world. It is a constant inquiry of where society has let down certain classes of people in society."
Mr Damien Tay Chye Seng, 51
Mr Tay has 30 years of commercial operation experience in multinational corporations and is now a customer service manager. He said that he was “politically awakened” to what was happening in Singapore after GE2011 and decided to step forward to serve Singaporeans because he felt that change can only happen through the ballot box. He wants better job opportunities for Singaporeans, to bridge the inequality gap and to champion climate change.
"Fear is a very strong word in Singapore. If we overcome this fear, we can do much more for Singapore. As (former ambassador) Tommy Koh said, we can always be loving critics."
Mr Nadarajah Loganathan, 57
Mr Loganathan retired from the Singapore Armed Forces as a lieutenant colonel in 2009 after 25 years and is now an educator. He has known Dr Tan Cheng Bock since 2003, when the latter was still Member of Parliament for Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency (SMC). He was also one of Dr Tan’s assentors, when the latter ran in the 2011 Presidential Election. He wants to promote equal chances for all and push for Singaporeans to be given first priority in job opportunities, and feels that there is much more to be done to improve the quality of education here.
"I realised that it was about time I paid back. I've settled my family, my three girls are graduating very soon, so I now want to look at how to help the country."
Mr Michael Chua, 55
He is PSP’s organising secretary and its central executive committee member. He attended the London School of Economics and Political Science on a Singapore Armed Forces Merit scholarship. He left the army as a deputy brigade commander in 2016, and held stints at various firms linked to state investment firm Temasek and SMEs before starting his own business.
"I've gained tremendous experience working in both private and public sector practices, as well as from working internationally and locally. These experiences have shaped my thinking on how we can better tackle the problems the country faces, particularly the systemic problems that exist."
Mr Kumaran Pillai, 49
He left The Independent Singapore, the sociopolitical website he had co-founded, in February to join politics. He now manages several startups and is the chief executive officer of Apple Seed, a venture accelerator. He wants to champion entrepreneurship, create new jobs and make sure SMEs get back on their feet in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"One of the things Dr Tan Cheng Bock said was that writing and championing causes online is not enough. He said that I needed to take the fight to Parliament. And that sort of motivated me. I hope to be represented and be the voice of the people."
- Mr Lim Cher Hong, 42
He is a financial consultant whom the party had not introduced to the public during its weekly engagement sessions. The father of three was a programme coordinator cum trainer at the Silver Generation Office, where he managed a team of volunteers in helping seniors apply for government schemes and referred vulnerable seniors to agencies. Instead of focusing on the growing medical costs for the ageing population, the country should be promoting more wellness programmes, he said.
“My friends say to me I'm crazy to join an opposition party. I always tell them this is not an opposition party. We are a proposition party. We don’t just complain. We come up with better long-term solutions to serve the people’s needs,” he said.
- Mr Terence Soon, 29
He is a pilot at Singapore Airlines (SIA). He said he did not do well in his A-Levels and had to retake them as a private candidate, but started a business while in university. Prior to joining SIA, he ran a business in the private aviation industry. He said he is a firm supporter of enterprise and of enabling youths to start their own business.
“Why PSP and not PAP? I never felt right trying to change things from the inside because I don’t think it really works. If we are not allowed to stand by our own principles and things like voting in Parliament, then what can we actually change?” he said.
- Ms Kala Manickam, 52
An adult educator today, she started her career in the Singapore Armed Forces, being among the first batch of female officers integrated in tri-service where she trained alongside men. She stayed on in the Officer Cadet School as the Platoon Commander of the women’s wing. She left to join the private sector after seven years, and eventually joined the Nursing Learning and Development Department at SingHealth, where she managed the training needs of nurses for local and overseas deployments.
“Most of the skills qualifications are being conducted in the classroom, (but) competency will only be gained at a workplace… The whole shift has to come in the perspective of workplace learning” she said.
- Mr Abdul Rahman Mohamad, 67
He is a PSP CEC member who had taken part in GE2006, running as the Singapore Democratic Alliance candidate for Tampines GRC. They lost with 31.49 per cent of the vote. He is a consulting engineer at Parsons International specialising in fire and life safety audit and design. He started his career with the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1975, and became involved in engineering maintenance and design. He takes special interest in education support, pointing out that self-help groups such as Mendaki should be relooked, noting that there should be a transparent and open review on the efficiency of the agencies’ funding models.
“People from ITE (Institutes of Technical Education), make sure that they are employable. They have the skill. Unlike what’s happening now, I can see that most of them become Grab, food delivery riders. This is no good,” he said.
- Mr Jeffrey Khoo Poh Tiong, 51
The botanist, who is chief marketing officer for a multinational corporation in the insurance sector, was involved in grassroots work, having helped some Members of Parliament at their Meet-The-People’s sessions. He is also the honorary treasurer of the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). He said he has an underlying concern for middle-age and qualified Singaporean PMETs with challenges securing a suitably salaried job that matches their skills and qualifications.
“At certain Meet-The-People sessions, when I see people cry in front of me over a very small amount of money, it really made me think harder about what I need to do,” he said.
WHERE IT’S EXPECTED TO CONTEST
West Coast Group GRC
Nee Soon GRC
Chua Chu Kang GRC
Tanjong Pagar GRC
Hong Kah North SMC
Kebun Baru SMC
Yio Chu Kang SMC
RESULTS IN GE2015
Did not take part in the elections