Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah was not the only ruling party parliamentarian to bump into veteran politician Tan Cheng Bock during his opposition party’s inaugural walkabout over the weekend. Dr Tan revealed on social media that he also ran into Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng during the islandwide outreach event.
Dr Tan is the very first ex-People’s Action Party (PAP) parliamentarian to start his own opposition party in Singapore’s history. He was MP for Ayer Rajah Single Member SMC from 1980 to 2006.
A beloved politician, Dr Tan gained the highest margin of victory for the PAP in his last election as a PAP candidate in 2001, with 88 per cent of votes. During his time with the PAP, he also mentored younger politicians like Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
In the coming election, Dr Tan will be clashing with his former party as the leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) – an opposition party that is making waves in Singapore, despite the fact that it is the newest political party in Singapore, having been founded in January this year.
The PSP held its first walkabout yesterday (29 Sept) and visited a hefty 29 constituencies (16 GRCs and 13 SMCs) across the country. Revealing that his party received a “warm reception” during the event and that the outreach yesterday is the first of many such events the PSP is planning, Dr Tan wrote on social media:
“The purpose of this walkabout was to reach out to Singaporeans, keep them informed about our new PSP party and connect with them. We distributed all our flyers and were heartened and encouraged by the warm reception that we received.
“I joined the walkabout at Ghim Moh and Tiong Bahru. During my walkabout, we met the MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Ms Indranee Rajah and shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Later over lunch with my youngest supporter, I met MP Tan Wu Meng, the MP for Jurong GRC.”
This is not the first time PAP politicians have “bumped into” Dr Tan at public places, since he announced the formation of his party in January.
On 19 Jan, a day after he announced his return to politics, Dr Tan bumped into Law and Home Affairs Minister Mr K Shanmugam at the Chong Pang Hawker Centre. Despite their very public differences in the past, both men were all smiles as the camera clicked a picture of them at the hawker centre.
Less than a week after he visited Chong Pang Hawker Centre, Dr Tan visited Tampines Hawker and Food centre on 26 January. Again, Dr Tan bumped into another PAP MP, Tampines GRC’s Desmond Choo, who gave Dr Tan a Chinese New Year package.
Just over two weeks after he announced his re-entry to the political field, Dr Tan visited Ang Mo Kio GRC with Lee Hsien Yang and bumped into Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ang Hin Kee. This means that three PAP MPs bumped into Dr Tan in within 15 days of him announcing his return to politics.
In July, Dr Tan met Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran and MP Foo Mee Har at a community event at West Coast GRC. Mr Iswaran and Ms Foo are the incumbent parliamentarians and town councillors in charge of West Coast GRC.
Incidentally, Ms Foo represents the Ayer Rajah division of the ward. Dr Tan represented Ayer Rajah for 26 years when it was an SMC. The ward was absorbed into West Coast GRC after he left the PAP.
Yesterday, two more ruling party MPs bumped into Dr Tan during his party’s first major outreach event. Ms Indranee said that residents can decide for themselves who they want to represent them in Parliament when she was asked by the media whether she was concerned by the PSP’s presence in her ward.
She said: “It’s nice to see people come by occasionally, so I took the chance to say hi to Cheng Bock.”
While Dr Tan’s encounters with PAP politicians has led some to speculate that the PAP could be nervous about facing him at the polls, it is unclear whether these encounters were deliberately planned by the MPs or truly accidental.