At the sagely age of 80, Tan Cheng Bock undoubtedly has an impressive resume under his belt. From a career in medicine to entering the political arena back in 1980, Dr Tan went on to serve Ayer Rajah as an MP for 26 whole years. However, the ward is now part of West Coast GRC.
Having left the PAP, Dr Tan started his political party—the Progress Singapore Party, in hopes of evoking change while still holding steadfast to his values. He has since been critical of the ruling party’s governance, citing an “erosion of transparency, independence, and accountability” on their part.
This 2020, he’s back with a cause. Contesting against Minister S. Iswaran and team for West Coast GRC, Dr Tan is leading his party with confidence, humility, and genuineness. Here’s why the PAP should fear Tan Cheng Bock.
In a remarkable winning margin that remains unsurpassed till this very day, Tan Cheng Bock won a whopping 88% of votes in the 2001 General Elections for Ayer Rajah SMC. He left Tan Lead Shake in his wake, who lost his deposit after only garnering 12% of the votes.
This is as good an indication as any that he’s backed and loved by Singaporeans, and is a force to be reckoned with.
This is essentially everything that PAP should fear, nicely summed up in a comment. In an interview with Yahoo Singapore, Historian and Professor Michael Barr said that Dr Tan “is like the PAP but nicer.”
“Tan is popular and always was, based very much on his independent streak, and, frankly, being such a nice person. This is really his message,” Barr also added. It is believed that the current appeal of the PSP rides almost solely on Tan Cheng Bock’s personality and reputation as well.
After having served for 26 years as a PAP Member of Parliament for Ayer Rajah, Dr Tan also slowly grew to become one of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s most vocal critics. He had mentioned that his newly formed Progress Singapore Party had intentions to ask the government tough questions.
When questioned if his party was “just another PAP”, Dr Tan’s response was, “I didn’t change, the PAP changed.” He is also charging on strong in the ongoing elections, confident that he knows [the West Coast] “very well”.
About a year ago, Lee Hsien Yang penned in a public Facebook post about his approval of Dr Tan as a leader. “This is good for the future of Singapore. Cheng Bock is the leader Singapore deserves,” he wrote.
This is, notably, the first time a member of the Lee family has openly endorsed an opposition figure. This speaks volumes of the favour and respect that Dr Tan has curried not only amongst his people but also amongst peers and colleagues.
In his near-success in the 2011 presidential election, Dr Tan won the second-highest number of votes out of four candidates at 34.85% of the votes. Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock came neck-to-neck, but the latter Tan lost marginally by 0.35%.
Nonetheless, this is a testament in itself of how close Dr Tan came to representing Singapore as our President because of his versatility and popularity.
In addition to point 1 that Dr Tan had once won 88% of electoral votes, he also continued to secure victory margins that were higher than the PAP’s national average—which is 66.6%— throughout his political career.
This fact alone should definitely leave PAP shaking in their boots.
All that said, there have been two camps with regards to whether we will see Tan Cheng Bock replicate his success again. Some reasons sceptics cited were that circumstances under a GRC would differ from that of an SMC, the demographic of voters have since changed, and that he was previously contesting under People’s Action Party during his big win.
Either way, we’re sure all eyes will be on West Coast GRC come 10 July. Here’s wishing Dr Tan and the team all the very best.
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