SINGAPORE – More than 20 members and supporters joined Singaporeans First (SingFirst) on Sunday morning as the new political party held its debut walkabout in Tanjong Pagar GRC, a stronghold of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
Among them were six of the party’s 10 founding members, including its secretary-general and former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say.
SingFirst also launched its website, http://singfirst.org, on Saturday as it gears up for the next general elections, which must be held by January 2017.
Announced in May and officially registered in August, the party has received more than 100 applications from people keen to become members, Mr Tan said at a press conference held after the walkabout.
He added that the party has plans to contest “maybe four” constituencies, and reiterated its intentions of working together with other parties to avoid splitting the opposition vote.
“If they have a stronger team, we’ll make way for them,” said Mr Tan, an investment advisor who ran for the 2011 general elections under the Singapore Democratic Party’s banner.
He added: “The whole idea is to win. We are all in favour of opposition unity. We will respect other parties. The real objective is to defeat the PAP.”
SingFirst has spoken to the National Solidarity Party and the Democratic Progressive Party, Mr Tan said. The Singapore Democratic Party have waved away the need for a formal introduction, while the Singapore Malay National Organisation and the Singapore Democratic Alliance have said they need to hold internal discussions before agreeing to work together.
The Reform Party, the Singapore People’s Party and the Workers’ Party – the only opposition party with elected MPs in Parliament – have not responded to SingFirst’s overtures, said Mr Tan.
But he is not worried: “We still have time. No need to rush. Election is not around the corner so there’s still some time. We’ll work something out.”
Dressed in royal blue shirts bearing the party’s red-and-white logo, SingFirst’s members and supporters visited areas around the Holland Drive Market and Food Centre for close to two hours, shaking hands and giving out pamphlets explaining the party’s objectives.
Explaining why the party chose to visit Tanjong Pagar GRC, Mr Tan said residents in the constituency have not had the chance to vote for more than 20 years.
The constituency has been won by the PAP in walkovers since it was created in 1991. In 2011, a group of independents led by businessman Ng Teck Siong – chairman of the Socialist Front – made a last-minute bid to contest the GRC, but was disqualified after submitting their nomination papers too late.
SingFirst plans to visit various constituencies in the coming months to drum up awareness about the party – a strategic move as electoral boundaries have not been set in stone, said Mr Tan.
The party’s chairman Dr Ang Yong Guan also added that SingFirst is hoping to make a shift away from “personality-based politics”, where political parties are associated with certain key people.
“We want to move away from that and tell Singaporeans that political parties in Singapore need not be linked to any person. It needs to be for all. Anybody interested can come and join,” he said.