Dr Tan Cheng Bock Tried To Run For President Twice

Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s narrow loss to Dr Tony Tan in the 2011 presidential elections wasn’t the only time he ran for a major political position.

He contested the reserved spot that eventually went to our current President Mdm Halimah Yacob in the 2017 elections.

The court rejected his appeal, but that didn’t stop him from attending the #NotMyPresident silent sit-in protest at Hong Lim Park after Mdm Halimah’s appointment.

Now that he has publicly announced his return to politics, we look at 7 facts about this man who just wouldn’t give up.

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1. Sings and plays the ukulele

Politicians can win our hearts in many ways, and one way that Dr Tan did was by his singing skills and his musical ability using the ukulele.

Check out his rendition of our favourite NDP song, Count On Me Singapore, performed with his fellow Raffles Institution alumni friends.

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2. Met the love of his life in uni

While pursuing medicine at the University of Singapore in the 1960s, he met his wife, Madam Cecilia Lee Choon Lain, who was studying pharmacy.

The couple have 2 children, a son and a daughter.

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In an interview with The Straits Times, he fondly recounts that during their courtship, she would nag at him to study and stop being distracted by World Wrestling Federation (WWF) videos.

3. Spent half a century as a doctor

Many of us may know Dr Tan as a politician, but another job he has undertaken for way longer than his political career is that of being a doctor.

He opened his first clinic, named Ama Keng Clinic, in 1971 at a Lim Chu Kang village.

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He had a big heart and also helped the villagers, many of whom were poor, in issues such as land disputes and family feuds.

Even many years later, as the villagers were resettled into HDB flats and Dr Tan shifted his practice into the HDB heartlands, his old patients continued to look for him.

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4. Persistent as a teen

His never-give-up attitude shone through even as a teenager, when he undertook a legal battle with the Singapore Harbour Union to claim a benevolent fund his family was entitled to.

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His father, a clerk at the Singapore Harbour Board, had passed away from tuberculosis when he was 16, and his family could rightly claim $28,000 from the union.

However, the union claimed they couldn’t disburse the funds to him as his father had failed to pay the fees. Dr Tan dug out a payment receipt as evidence, but the union still refused to accede to his request.

Although his father’s friends told him not to pursue the issue as the union wielded great power, he sought legal help.

Dr Tan then went one step further. He showed up regularly at the union for more than a year until his efforts paid off.

He retrieved $14,000 from the union, and their family finally got their first fridge.

5. One of the best-performing political candidates

Dr Tan first entered politics in 1980 after being interviewed by Mr Lee Kuan Yew as a potential candidate for that year’s general election.

He served as a Member of Parliament for the Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency (SMC) for 26 years, and was one of the best-performing political candidates in Singapore, winning each election with an average of 77% of votes.

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His best-ever score was in the 2001 election where he went against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Mr Tan Lead Shake and won a whopping 88% of the votes.

He resigned as MP in 2006 after he almost succumbed to meningitis in 2005.

6. Contested in 2 presidential elections

In the 2011 presidential election, he lost by a narrow margin of 0.34% to Dr Tony Tan.

And later in the 2017 election, he was unable to run due to a new rule reserving that election only for Malays.

7. Founded the Progress Singapore Party

In January 2019, Dr Tan announced his intention to form a new political party, the Progress Singapore Party.

On Saturday (16 Mar), he updated that the registration of the party has been “approved in principle”.

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And on Monday (1 Apr), he announced that the political party has been “formally registered”.

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A man of resilience

In his many years in medicine and politics, Dr Tan has truly shown his grit and determination in solving issues that matter to him.

MS News wishes him success with his new political party, and may he continue to be of good service to the people.

Featured image from If Only Singaporeans Stopped To Think.