SINGAPORE – Two former Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members have applied to register a new political party named Red Dot United, with the intention of contesting the next general election.
Mr Ravi Philemon and Ms Michelle Lee, who resigned separately from the party led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock earlier this year, said they submitted the application for the party to the Registry of Societies on Tuesday (May 26). The party currently has 12 members aged between 25 and 55.
If approved, it will bring the total number of opposition parties here up to 12.
Mr Philemon said: “Our goal is to build a political-social platform, and not just another political party. Matters of government and policy must be accessible and easily understood by all Singaporeans whether old or young, or a new citizen.”
He said that as the world and Singapore are changing, even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Singaporeans need to be more politically active to get the Government to focus on issues which affect ordinary Singaporeans, instead of just trusting their leaders.
“We are not best served by an elite class with their heads in the clouds. To get a robust nation and society, we must educate, enable and empower our citizens to engage in dialogue and effective debate without fear,” said Mr Philemon.
The Ministry of Home Affairs previously said that the average processing time for registering a new political party would be about two months. Mr Philemon said that if it is still not approved after a couple of weeks, the party will write in to the Registry to request that its application be expedited given the possibility of an election could be called before the party is registered.
While stating he was confident the brand new party had the resources to contest an election, Mr Philemon did not say where or how many seats it intends to contest.
Mr Philemon was believed to be the PSP’s intended candidate for Hong Kah North before his departure. He had contested there in 2015 under the Singapore People’s Party banner.
Ms Lee herself had contested in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in 2011 under the Singapore Democratic Party banner.
Ms Lee, who will be the party chairman, said they chose not to join another party and instead start a new one, as they felt there is a need for a distinctly “new perspective, new ideas and new methods” to be brought into the political landscape here.
When asked what sets Red Dot United apart from the other existing opposition parties, Mr Philemon said that it will not be a party focused on any key individual, and will also target the youths.
“Politics as we know it in Singapore, has always been centred on different personalities that’s always personality driven. Whereas the kind of politics that we envision would be a politics which is centered on the right policies to take Singapore forward,” he said.
Both Mr Philemon’s and Ms Lee’s resignations from PSP had raised eyebrows. Ms Lee quit the party in March, less than two months after being appointed vice-chairman. She cited family commitments though there was speculation of internal disagreements about appointments of new central committee members.
On Friday, Ms Lee said she had resigned because the work was too exhausting.
“I was on the CEC and I was given various roles, to run the communications team and to run the actual groundwork for an entire section of island right. So all this was very intensive,” she said.
Ms Lee said that she is now back in the political scene as she had “benefited from this time out”.
Mr Philemon quit PSP in May. He did not provide a reason then but was said to be unhappy about the party’s handling of video that accused him of being funded by foreign sources.
Asked again on Friday why he left PSP, Mr Philemon said without elaborating: “It is possible that we asked too many questions.”
Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University said that the addition of Red Dot United makes the opposition scene here not only more crowded, but potentially more fragmented, as there will be more parties jostling for a limited number of seats. He said Red Dot United will be at a further disadvantage as it is “not at the table when the opposition parties agree on allocating the constituencies among themselves”.
He added that Mr Philemon and Ms Lee may be viewed by some as party-hoppers who were not able to get their way in previous parties, and can only realise their political vision in starting their own.
“I feel it’s admirable at some level. As much as they were disappointed that their previous political affiliations didn’t work out, they seem to be soldiering on. But the question is will they be able to get out of the personality-centric focus that we tend to see within the opposition.”
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