After nearly defeating PAP, Progress Singapore sends two to parliament

Progress Singapore Party Hazel Poa (left) and Leong Mun Wai (right). Images: ST/Facebook
Progress Singapore Party Hazel Poa (left) and Leong Mun Wai (right). Images: ST/Facebook

Two members of the Progress Singapore Party have officially taken up unelected seats in Parliament.

The opposition party announced today that vice-chairman Hazel Poa and assistant sec-gen Leong Mun Wai will represent it as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, or NCMPs, after the seats were offered by the Elections Department for its strong showing at the polls. 

A team of five candidates led by party leader Tan Cheng Bock lost to the People’s Action Party in the West Coast group constituency with 48.31% of the vote, just 3% shy of the PAP’s share. It was the best performance among vanquished parties. 

When Tan introduced Poa and Leong to the press, the 80-year-old political veteran noted the former’s mathematics background and experience in the Ministry of Finance, as well as Leong’s history in the corporate sector, including a short stint at the GIC sovereign wealth fund. 

Both Poa and Leong said that they looked forward to working with the Workers’ Party, the only opposition party to win any seats, snapping up 10 in Parliament. 

“I’m humbled by the trust the party has placed in me to take up this NCMP,” Leong said, adding that the party “needs to represent the 48.3% who had voted for us.”

Poa said: “Having alternative voices in parliament is only half the job done.”

As a sort of consolation prize to top-performing opposition parties, non-constituency members are afforded all rights and privileges of elected members.

According to Tan, he will monitor his two members in Parliament and support their performance through a separate team of party members. 

“I will have a team to back my two members up. Made up of very young people and very wise people. They will give information, feedback, and also some issues current for them to take up in the house,” Tan told reporters today without elaborating further. He also said the party would begin the process of selecting new leadership. 

Despite handily winning last week’s general election, the People’s Action Party’s performance was widely viewed as poor due to its slimmer margin. It won 61% of total votes, less than the nearly 70% of 2015, and ceded a group constituency and three seats it controlled to the opposition.

Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh was officially declared the leader of Singapore’s opposition by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the first time such a title was made official since independence.


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