Dr Tan Cheng Bock (1940 – ) entered politics in 1980 and served as Ayer Rajah constituency’s MP for 25 years. Dr Tan planned, started and chaired the Feedback Unit. He has also been on various town councils, several Government Parliamentary committees, and sat on the boards of the SMRT and Land Transport Authority. Though he has retired from politics, Dr Tan, who enjoys gardening, playing golf and rearing Japanese carp, still contributes to the community. He is the chairman of the Jurong Health Connect Advisory Committee among other posts.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock fought for free parking on Sundays and public holidays to promote better social interaction. He was quite disturbed when we had paid parking during weekends. Many Singaporeans said that when they were visiting parents or friends, they could not stay longer because they had to pay for parking. Winning over the government to allow free parking on Sundays and public holidays. This was to promote better social interaction.
He was a backbencher in Singapore’s Parliament from 1980 to 2006 as a member of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
Representing the PAP, Tan was elected as a Member of Parliament for Ayer Rajah SMC at the 1980 general election (83% majority). He was re-elected five times in 1984 (75%), 1988 (70%), 1991 (75%), 1997 (73%) and 2001 in his 88% share of the vote in the 2001 parliamentary elections was the PAP’s best score in 31 years.
In 1999, when the nation was recovering from the Asian Financial Crisis, and experiencing yet labour talent shortages in several key sectors, the PAP pushed for a stronger intake of foreign talent to fill the ranks. But Tan Cheng Bock argued (ie against the concept) that the Government should tone down its calls for the recruitment of foreign talent and reassure Singaporeans that they came first. But that got him sidelined with strong rebuttals for other PAP MPs including one from then Minister of Trade and Industry BG Yeo and a stern rebuke from then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
In early May 2011 he resigned from the PAP to stand as a candidate in the 2011 presidential election. But lost to Tony Tan Keng Yam by a very narrow margin of 0.3%.
Many Sngaporean were sadden by the result, as many thought that with Tan Cheng Bok, he would have made a different.