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GE2020: PSP’s Tan Cheng Bock meets SDA’s Desmond Lim in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, calls him ‘a friend’

SINGAPORE — Dr Tan Cheng Bock, leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), showed up at fellow opposition party Singapore Democratic Alliance’s (SDA) Pasir Ris-Punggol battleground constituency on Monday afternoon (July 6) to shore up support for his friend and SDA chief Desmond Lim.

GE2020: PSP’s Tan Cheng Bock meets SDA’s Desmond Lim in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, calls him ‘a friend’

SDA chairman Desmond Lim (left) with PSP secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC on July 6, 2020.

  • Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC is the only GRC facing a three-cornered fight
  • Dr Tan Cheng Bock called the other opposition party chief a “friend” who had helped him
  • Mr Desmond Lim denied that the meeting was a message to the Peoples Voice party


SINGAPORE — Dr Tan Cheng Bock, leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), showed up at fellow opposition party Singapore Democratic Alliance’s (SDA) Pasir Ris-Punggol battleground constituency on Monday afternoon (July 6) to shore up support for his friend and SDA chief Desmond Lim.

However, Dr Tan, 80, stopped short of calling it an endorsement for SDA, telling reporters that he “endorses all the opposition parties” and that “everyone is my friend”.

Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) is the only GRC with a three-cornered fight this General Election, with Peoples Voice and the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) contesting the constituency as well.

It was believed to be the first time that Dr Tan had turned up at another party’s walkabout during the GE campaign. He stayed at the void deck of Block 614, Elias Road for about 10 minutes before leaving with one of two identical posters.

The posters, bearing the words “One Bond, One Heart for Singapore”, also carried several photographs of the two men. The posters have an SDA logo in the corner. Dr Tan signed both the posters while Mr Lim signed one.

When asked if he was also endorsing Peoples Voice, Dr Tan expressed surprise at the news that there was a three-cornered fight there.

“So sad. I didn’t know because there are so many things (going on) — we are concentrating on the other side. I hope that the opposition will make headway,” Dr Tan added.

The PSP is contesting constituencies in the western, northern and central regions, with Dr Tan himself seeking a spot in West Coast GRC. He was a PAP Member of Parliament (MP) in the now-defunct Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency for 26 years.

Dr Tan said that SDA’s Mr Lim helped him last year when PSP was founded and “nobody came to help me”. Mr Lim also gave him advice as SDA has been around for almost two decades.

“I never forget a friend. And I know that he is a man who has helped many people,” Dr Tan added.

Separately, taking his turn to speak after Dr Tan had left, Mr Lim told reporters that he had helped PSP with issues faced by new parties, such as costs and how to position themselves.

As for whether he thought Dr Tan was endorsing SDA, Mr Lim, who called him a “true friend”, added: “The fact that he’s present here is good enough to show there’s good friendship and a form of informal or formal unity.”

When asked if the meeting was a message to Peoples Voice, Mr Lim replied: “No, no, no, it’s up to your imagination. If they want to read their way, I can’t stop any one of you from what you think or interpret. I only can control my own thoughts, words and actions.”

Just prior to Nomination Day on June 30, Mr Lim told TODAY that he had asked Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean to withdraw from contesting in Pasir Ris-Punggol, but the latter had insisted on proceeding.

“Residents can tell the difference between SDA and other parties that are only full of hot air,” Mr Desmond Lim added then.

Shortly after Dr Tan’s visit, Mr Lim Tean said in his daily Facebook Live “After work” video that he is participating in a three-cornered fight as he believes “the stronger party should always have the ability to contest in that area”.

“And I’m not afraid. I don’t have to draw in other celebrities, other politicians of high standing to help my team there. They can take care of themselves, and I’m sure on election day they will do very well. They will confound the pundits,” Mr Lim Tean added.

In response to TODAY’s questions, one of Peoples Voice’s candidates for Pasir Ris-Punggol, Mr Gilbert Goh, said that both Mr Desmond Lim and Dr Tan are his personal friends and called for them not to “treat each other as enemies but that we respect each other”.

“We are all friends first even though we stand in elections against one another,” Mr Goh added.

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Meanwhile, at an earlier walkabout on Monday morning in his own party’s battleground in Chua Chu Kang GRC, Dr Tan reiterated his stance on the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) debate.

He personally would not take up an NCMP seat but would open it up to his fellow candidates, he said. These seats are offered to some losing opposition candidates who perform well at the polls.

On Sunday, PAP first assistant-general Heng Swee Keat challenged the Workers’ Party to declare whether it would accept an NCMP seat if it were offered.

One of PSP’s candidates in Chua Chu Kang, Mr Francis Yuen, chimed in on Monday to say he would not accept an NCMP position either.

Dr Tan was also asked on his take on several correction directions issued by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office on Sunday evening over comments made by Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party.

Dr Tambyah, also an infectious diseases expert, had spoken about the outbreak of Covid-19 in foreign worker dormitories at a forum last weekend.

Dr Tan and Dr Tambyah had earlier challenged the PAP’s second assistant secretary-general, Mr Chan Chun Sing, to a televised debate on managing Covid-19.

Dr Tan said that he did not know the details of what Dr Tambyah said during the forum, but added that the other man “is a very careful chap”.

“Certain numbers you may get it wrong but as thrust of the argument — I don’t think he will make errors like that,” Dr Tan noted while calling on the Government to provide official figures.

He also addressed a question on what his party’s plan for Covid-19 is, saying that PSP will “hold a session” about it right before Cooling-Off Day on Thursday.

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PSP Tan Cheng Bock Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Opposition SDP Singapore General Election

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