New Singapore opposition party launched as polls loom

SINGAPORE (AFP) – A new opposition party backed by the estranged brother of Singapore’s Prime Minister was launched yesterday in a fresh challenge to the government as speculation mounts elections could be called soon.

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) – aiming to contest an election due by 2021 but widely expected earlier – is led by Tan Cheng Bock, a medical doctor and former government stalwart who once ran for president and nearly defeated the establishment candidate.

The group has received the support of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s brother, the latest sign of a bitter falling-out within the city-state’s first family over their father’s legacy.

The rare row within Singapore’s elite erupted following the 2015 death of the men’s father, founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, who led the country for three decades and is widely revered in the city.

Under decades of rule by his People’s Action Party (PAP), Singapore transformed from a gritty port into one of Asia’s most advanced economies – although authorities also faced criticism for curtailing civil liberties and free speech.

Party officials said that Tan’s PSP was formally launched in the morning at an event attended by hundreds of supporters.