Stepping back into the limelight
Former presidential hopeful Tan Jee Say starts new political party
Mr Tan Jee Say knows he has "lots of detractors" for starting a new political party.
"They ask, why form another political party? You're splitting the opposition," he told The New Paper yesterday.
The former presidential hopeful shot down talk that he is doing it to raise his profile.
"Attention is not necessarily good. There are lots of other things people can do to get attention, such as running naked along the road," he said.
Announcing the new party called Singaporeans First yesterday, Mr Tan said stepping into the limelight once more was no laughing matter.
"(Politics) is dealing with the hopes and lives of people. It's not attention-seeking," he said. "Unfortunately, (being in the spotlight) is part of the process. You want to represent the public, you must let the public know who you are."
The 60-year-old was part of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team that contested the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC during General Election 2011.
While grateful to SDP for giving him the opportunity and platform, he said the new party would allow him to "work with all parties, not just one party in the coming GE".
Dr Ang Yong Guan, a former SDP teammate, is among the 11 founding members of the new party (see report above) and he expects more people, including SDP faces, to join the fledgling party after it is registered today.
The various office-holders will be confirmed at a later date.
Told about Mr Tan's dream to unite the opposition, political observer Wong Wee Nam wondered if Mr Tan has sufficient clout.
"The question is whether he's the right person to do it when there's an obvious big shot like (Workers' Party chief) Low Thia Khiang," he said.
Nominated MP and Singapore Management University law lecturer Eugene Tan said: "The idea of (a consolidated) opposition has been attempted many times over the last few decades without much success. It remains to be seen whether Mr Tan can do so."
As for the 11-strong founding line-up, which Mr Tan said was sufficient to contest two GRCs, Dr Wong noted: "Contesting a GRC requires a few hundred people to help with logistics, get grassroots support and (conduct) activities. It's not so easy."
What Mr Tan told TNP in an exclusive interview before yesterday's press conference:
WHY NOT JOIN AN EXISTING PARTY?
That would be taking the easy way out. We've taken the hard road to write a completely new narrative for Singapore...
The manifesto spells out what we'd like to do - (policies) like having unemployment insurance, more health-care spending, remove GST, have an old age pension scheme on top of the Central Provident Fund and nurture a fair society rather than treat people as economic digits...
Forming a political party is a serious thing. You're subjecting yourself and your family to public scrutiny and scrutiny by Government agencies. We do it because we want to send a message. We're giving Singaporeans a different vision.
HOW FEASIBLE IS YOUR DREAM OF ACHIEVING OPPOSITION UNITY WHEN SOME LIKE THE WORKERS' PARTY (WP) ARE NOT KEEN?
If WP wants to go alone, then we will let them go alone. We can still cooperate among the others...
We want to be more proactive, rather than be a co-driver and slap only when the driver's sleeping. Even when the driver is awake and he's going in the wrong direction, we'll pinch him and wake him up.
WHAT WILL YOU DO NEXT?
I've started to talk to several other parties like National Solidarity Party's Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss. We can work out a common message for Singaporeans, maybe do walkabouts, try to settle on the constituencies and help each other.
We'll cooperate as much as possible and avoid head-on collision. If we don't want to go headlong with anybody, Tanjong Pagar is available (for contesting in the next GE).
We want to help each other win. We have two years to talk... And the best yardstick to gauge success is to get elected.
(Politics) is dealing with the hopes and lives of people. It's not attention-seeking.
- Mr Tan Jee Say
The 11 are:
Financial adviser Tan Jee Say
- Contested Presidential Election in 2011.
- Stood in General Election the same year as a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate.
Psychiatrist Ang Yong Guan
- Contested GE 2011 as part of SDP team.
Retired engineer Michael Chia
Communications professional Fahmi Rais
- Former young People's Action Party (PAP) member and legislative assistant
Architect Fatimah Akhtar
Chemist David Foo
- Former young PAP member
Project manager Jamie Lee
Architect and town planner Winston Lim
Educational companies director Loke Pak Hoe
Educator David Tan
Social entrepreneur Tan Peng Ann
- Retired SAF officer and former PAP grassroots leader