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Tan Cheng Bock applies to form new Progress Singapore Party

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Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock has applied to form a new political party. Dr Tan said he and 11 "like-minded Singaporeans", including former People's Action Party (PAP) cadres, filed an application to the Registry of Societies to form the new Progress Singapore Party two days ago.

[SINGAPORE] Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock has applied to form a new political party.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Jan 18), Dr Tan said he and 11 "like-minded Singaporeans", including former People's Action Party (PAP) cadres, filed an application to the Registry of Societies to form the new Progress Singapore Party two days ago.

He said the move was sparked by conversations he and his team had with Singaporeans from all walks of life over the years.

"I felta sense of duty to come forward and represent them in Parliament. So I decided to form a political party to add another voice in Parliament," he said.

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"The decision to go on our own was not an easy one," said Dr Tan, a former PAP MP for Ayer Rajah who stepped down in 2006. He and his team had studied various options, such as joining an existing opposition party, taking over one, and running as an independent candidate.

"I want to thank all those who made such generous offers. I considered them all seriously and it was a difficult decison, but I feel it is the right one," he said.

Despite deciding to set up a new party, Dr Tan said he and his team "still look forward to working with others in the opposition who are passionate about putting country first before either party or self".

Dr Tan noted that at 78, he has a short window which he intends to use to mentor and develop future Parliamentarians who will work for the good of our nation.

He said: "We want to build a compassionate and truly democratic Singapore where good values and people matter. Freedom of choice and free speech without fear must be defended."

He said a press conference will be held after the party gets approval from the Registry of Societies.

Dr Tan's move comes after months of speculation on whether he would return to politics. He had contested the 2011 Presidential Election, which he lost to former president Tony Tan Keng Yam by 7,382 votes.

In another post on Dec 31 last year, Dr Tan announced his retirement as a General Practitioner (GP) and hinted at a return to politics by announcing he looks forward to serving Singapore in a new way.

Last November, he was also seen having breakfast with Mr Lee Hsien Yang - the estranged brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - at a West Coast hawker centre in Dr Tan's former constituency.

Last July, seven opposition parties met to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition to contest the next general election, which must be held by April 2021. They had invited Dr Tan to lead this coalition.

THE STRAITS TIMES