Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Presidential Election Watch Part I - My Initial Impression of the PE Candidates

Before my retreat to Nanjing on Jun 10, the only candidate who had confirmed taking part in the PE Race was Tan Cheng Bock. Tan Kin Lian was still unsure then about getting family consensus, while PAP supporters were still hopeful that George Yeo would take part.

After my return from Nanjing, it is clear that this Presidential Election (PE) would be a Tri-Tan contest, amongst Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Kin Lian and Tony Tan.

It is quite obvious that Tony Tan is PAP's endorsed choice despite his declaration of independency. Otherwise, George Yeo might have chosen to contest with PAP's endorsement.

My initial impression of how the PE Race might turn out is as follows. You may recall the infamous "co-driver" analogy used by Workers Party MP Low Thia Kiang during GE 2011. I like to use this same analogy to describe how the contest might evolve.

(a) Dr. Tony Tan as the elected "co-driver" President to the PAP Government

If PAP is the "driver" elected by GE 2011, then Tony Tan if elected as the President may be viewed also as a "co-driver". Despite his declaration to fight as an independent candidate, his proximity  with the PAP is too close for comfort despite leaving the Government in 2005. After all PM Lee, ESM Goh and other Ministers / PAP have already given him an overwhelming endorsement.

Will this "co-driver" President if elected then be able to give the PAP Government an effective "slap" when required, given his powers are already limited as explained by our Minister for Law as mere "custodial". Will it again be like what happened to the late President Ong Teng Cheong when his term expired in September 1999. Or will a "slap" be "too late" as during the Lehman Brothers / Mini-Bond crisis when Tony Tan could have acted pre-emptively and directly as GIC's Vice Chairman / Executive Director in order to ensure the security of our reserves, without having to be a "co-driver" President ?

His intention to declare an independent campaign is probably aimed at distancing from the PAP for comfort and to win votes from the increasingly wider anti-PAP ground seen in GE 2011. It can also be viewed as distancing from a strong state-controlled media and also the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) which he has helmed but would resign from 1st July in order to qualify for the PE Race.

Is it then PAP's or Tony Tan's own tactics to hide and disguise the "GIC" link? To the general public, this is plainly technical in procedures especially when it could be perceived as for "easy and smooth" handover by an outgoing President SR Nathan and with the imminent resignation by Tony Tan from his GIC appointment. Obviously, there is nothing much to disagree when it he is directly in control now before the PE Race.

(b) Mr. Tan Kin Lian as the elected "Insurer" President

During GE 2011, Worker Party MP Low Thai Kiang also used the analogy of voting for the Workers Party as buying "insurance".

By voting for Tan Kin Lian, is it synonymous with buying "insurance" - safeguarding our "reserves" and "CPF" ? After all, Tan Kin Lian was once helming the NTUC Income, an insurance cooperative; managing assets of more than S$17 billion. And guided by his pledge on personal values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service guided by the views of the people which he will actively seek.

For those who know this man personally, you would know what his drive on these "values" really means by his own actions, more than "words". And he would pursue them right to the "ground", just like the way he had done it for the "Mini-Bond" saga, even when it means voicing out and brushing with highly authoritative figures that he considered should be responsible.

(c) Dr. Tan Cheng Bock as the elected "Doctor" President

With Tan Cheng Bock whom I consider to be comparatively "weaker" in his "corporate experience and financial acuity", will he then be the natural choice as "Doctor" President only to be chosen when you feel "ill" with options of "Tony Tan vs Tan Kin Lian". The irony is we can vote in only one of them.

I must mention and compliment him though, as a true amicable "grass-root" man, whom had spoken up when required even against his own PAP's policies. Dr. Tan was after all once my popular "stand-in" MP for Bukit Timah when Dr. Wang Kai Yuen had taken leave while he was equally friendly and accepted in his own ward at West Coast.

I will stop here for the time being as I will be doing shorter postings for easy reading. In forthcoming postings on this topic, we will take a closer look at the candidates individually.

Note : All comments expressed in this Blog regarding the PE Race are personal OPINIONS.


  1. TKL has a clear opportunity to campaign on a platform of "Insuring our people's wealth and wellbeing" but he hasn't. It's been more of a "spray and pray" method which is rather haphazard. But there's no denying that his values and communications outreach has been better online than mainstream. He however needs to correct the impression that he's not committed enough.

    TCB has a clear campaign from start - as being a healer and unifying figure. His supporters has always been quite steady and consistently building up his causes/values - all well articulated. But why does he choose to run as President now, his motivation is still hidden. I feel we haven't got there yet. And what are his views on Nathan presidency ? Did anything in the last 12 yrs he has saw might have given him the impetus to be the people's president or is it merely just from the recent GE? He's been largely silent too until the GE where he started to make a comment about "no blank cheque" that really got netizens' notice. He's to keep peeling the onion.

    As for TT. He has not platform. Basically, PM Lee has stolen TCB's tagline and make it his (PAP) own. Calling TT the real deal thus denouncing TCB the imposter! The bottom line is - he's the real GIC experience running reserves (unlike some insurance executive) and he's the unifying figure that will bring both "honor & credit" to SG. As if we're voting for an International embassador which we're not, and that the other two will not have the same effect - thus indirectly trying to shade them in a less than admirable shame. All we can say is - shame on you PAP. This tactics doesnt work anymore.

  2. Why don't we save on the electioneering expenses and just appoint the 3 Tans as the Presidential Team. A Triumvirate Presidency. This way, we get the best of the tripartite world - a co-driver, an insurer and a doctor. They can take turn to play President. When the country is ill, the doctor can play the key role. When the future is uncertain, the co-driver can be the navigator. And when the prospects are neither here nor there, the insurer can play his back-stop part.

  3. Scenario A - One of the Tans wins by a simple majority say 51% and the rest split equally between the other 2 Tans.

    Scenario B - 2 of the Tans get approx 45% and the remaining Tan loses election deposit.

    Scenario C - All 3 Tan get approx 33% of the votes and the winner win by (say) 500 votes.

    Wondering what would the response from the public and government be like?