Former Progress Singapore Party vice-chairman Michelle Lee Juen, 43, and member Ravi Philemon, 52, have announced to the media that they are starting a new political party called Red Dot United (RDU) on May 29, 2020.
New political party called "Red Dot United"
According to Lee and Philemon, the new party is formed by a group of like-minded people aged between 25 and 55.
Philemon will be the Secretary-General of RDU while Lee will be the Chairman of the party.
Currently, there are 12 people in the party, including two other former PSP members.
These members of RDU include people who practise medicine and who are legally trained.
Philemon said that the members also include professionals, executives as well as business owners.
Currently, there are no students but Philemon added that they would be inviting Singaporeans from all walks of life to join the party.
"We are not an elite political party. We recognise all people have value and we welcome all Singaporeans to join us", he said.
Why a new political party?
When asked why the two of them decide to start a new party instead of joining existing opposition parties, Lee said that the duo "see a distinct space in the [political] landscape and that there is still a need for more opposition parties in Singapore.
“Other parties ask why not just join their parties? We see a distinct space in the landscape, we see it as there’s a need for new perspective, new method to be brought to this space,” Lee said to the media.
Lee also compared Singapore to other countries of similar population size such as Denmark, Finland and New Zealand which have much more political parties contesting and being elected into their Parliament.
Lee added that they have spent time to come up with a list of objectives and broad goals for the RDU.
In the documents submitted to the Registry of Societies (ROS), RDU announced that it aimed to be a "national movement dedicated to serving Singapore and advancing the well-being of all Singaporeans; by promoting the ideals of fairness, accountability, integrity, transparency and happiness, hope and heart (empathy and compassion)."
Among the party beliefs include the "belief in loyalty to a sovereign Singapore", and "a belief that the greatest potential for social and economic optimization is under a free and fair global trading system".
Lee and Philemon said that the party will shift away from being "personality driven" and they hope to focus on policies that take Singapore forward.
They have filed an application with the ROS to register a new political party on May 26.
Lee: Not pulling people over from PSP
With one-third of the members being former PSP members, Lee explained that this is not a deliberate effort to pull PSP members over.
She said that the other two former PSP members joined RDU, after reaching out to Lee and Philemon and asking them about their future plans.
"We wish PSP the best, we are not trying to pull people over," Lee added.
Previously, Lee cited that she wants to spend more time with her family when she resigned from PSP in March.
When asked what made her return to the political scene after a mere two months, Lee cited that the large size of PSP was the main reason for her to not be able to balance between political involvement and family commitments.
Lee said that she was involved in many areas in PSP such as the communications and other groundwork. The size of the party has made the decision making process and organising work too time-consuming for her.
The growth of the RDU will be more "calibrated", Philemon explained.
"We don’t want to grow too fast as well, there’s a danger in growing too fast and we will calibrate our growth," Philemon said.
Philemon revealed the reason for leaving PSP, indicating that he may have "asked too many questions".
Philemon resigned from the party following a controversial video saga created by another former PSP member Daniel Teo who was expelled earlier this month.
Back then, he clarified that the video saga was not the main impetus to his departure from PSP. However, his decision was the "last course of action" after "a series of events".
When asked about how the RDU is going to differentiate themselves from PSP, they said that they preferred not to talk about the differences between the two parties.
In response to Mothership's query, the PSP spokesperson said that "PSP wishes them all the best".
Having a long term view but have intention to contest for General Election 2020
Lee and Philemon also said that the party will take a "long term view" in engaging Singaporeans of all ages in social-political issues.
The two intend to contest in the upcoming General Election 2020 but cited that there are many unknowns.
One of the unknown will be the time taken to get their application approved with the ROS.
In 2019, PSP took slightly more than two months to get the party successfully registered.
PSP did get an "in principle" approval a few weeks earlier.
"We do feel it is important for Singaporeans to have a choice, a good choice. If there’s an opportunity or need, we are open. We are not rushing. Our goal is something other than wining the election, it’s about preparing the ground in understanding the politics of Singapore," Lee said.
Philemon also said that the party has the resources to contest and given the possibility that GE 2020 will be sooner than later, he added that the party will write in to expedite their application with the ROS.
However, he also raised concerns about the safety of elderly should GE 2020 happen amid Covid-19 outbreak.
Nevertheless, a new party has arrived, maybe just in time for GE.
"We are not rushing but we are here", Lee said.
Top photos via PSP website