The National Day dinner hosted by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) was attended by high-ranking figures of other opposition political parties.
Seated among some 400 guests were Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah and People's Voice chief Lim Tean.
Also in attendance were members of the Reform Party, the Singapore Democratic Alliance, and the National Solidarity Party (NSP).
Symbol of common desire to make Singapore better
Speaking to Mothership, PSP Secretary General Francis Yuen said it was a symbol of a common desire among the opposition parties to make Singapore better.
The dinner was held at Beng Hiang Restaurant in Jurong East on the same night as the Worker’s Party’s (WP) national day celebrations; if not for the clash, Yuen said that members from the WP would have been invited as well.
“It’s as simple as what the pledge says: 'we are one united people',” said Yuen.
“We have different views doesn’t mean we’re not loyal to the country. We just want to make sure that there is diversity and we respect everyone, whether you’re from the ruling party or any of the alternative parties.”
In his speech opening the night, Yuen told the room that changes the party hoped to see in Singapore — “a more compassionate and caring society” — would only occur with more opposition representation in parliament, “including our colleagues from alternative parties who are here tonight.”
“You never know,” Yuen later said to Mothership, “there may be areas we can collaborate and areas we can work together for a common goal.”
“In life it’s better to make more friends than enemies,” he added.
SDP wants to avoid three-cornered fight: Paul Tambyah
Tambyah, who spent the evening seated next to Yuen, told Mothership that his attendance at the dinner was a continuation of his party’s close working relationship with the PSP.
“There are many areas in which we share common goals and common vision,” said Tambyah. “We are happy to work with anyone who shares our goals, visions, and aspirations for Singapore.”
The issue of collaboration and coordination between opposition parties will no doubt be on the SDP's agenda after the party announced its intentions to contest Sembawang GRC at the next general election.
The constituency was most recently contested by NSP during GE2020.
Nobody knows what's going to happen to the constituency
When asked about the NSP, Tambyah said he wanted to avoid three-cornered fights.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen to the constituency. They’ve already carved out Marsiling-Yew Tee from Sembawang in the past," he said.
The looming contest in Sembawang saw Minister for Health and Sembawang GRC MP Ong Ye Kung tell the media earlier in the day that he was looking forward to the SDP’s challenge at the next general election.
Ong said that SDP’s decision was “not surprising”, given that the party had contested in the GRC at GE2011. He added he saw the development as “positive” as long as the competition was healthy and gave residents a choice,
“I did [read it],” said Tambyah, responding to a question about if he had seen Ong’s comments. “I thought they were very fair.”
Tan Cheng Bock recovering well
One individual who was missing from the dinner was PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock, who is in hospital recovering from lung surgery.
Yuen said that Tan was doing well, but had been advised by doctors to remain hospitalised for the time being.
“Nothing to worry about, he’s doing fine. I think he should be out very soon,” Yuen said.
The lively affair — which was the PSP’s first large-scale face-to-face event since the pandemic — saw various games and live performances, including a rendition of Count On Me, Singapore by Yuen, Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa, and CEC members Wendy Low and Muhammad Taufik Bin Supan.
“Unfortunately, [Tan] missed a party tonight!” said Yuen.
Top image by Andrew Koay