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Saturday D-Day for four Tans in presidential contest

Singaporeans will vote for a new president on Saturday,
a largely ceremonial post.
By Luke Rintod of FMT
SINGAPORE: Singapore, which left Malaysia in 1965 to become an independent nation, goes to the polls on Saturday to elect its new president, a largely ceremonial post.

In the most hotly contested ever presidential polls since the office became an elected post 18 years ago, four Tans are crisscrossing this tiny country, considered to be the region’s financial hub, canvassing for support.

Former deputy prime minister Dr Tony Tan, former PAP MP Tan Cheng Bock and businessmen Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say are in the fight to preside over the nation where ethnic Chinese make up about 75% of the 3.3 million citizens.

Dr Tan and Cheng Bock are affiliated in one way or another to the ruling PAP, which was returned to power barely four months ago in a general election.

Kin Lian, a former chief executive officer of insurance firm NTUC Income, and Jee Say, a former regional managing director of investment firm AIB Govett (Asia), are promoting themselves as check-and-balance candidates to the long-ruling PAP and are competing for the anti-establishment votes.

Political pundits here foresee Dr Tan as the favourite to win as he enjoys the tacit support of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Current President SR Nathan is retiring on Aug 31, after a two six-year term in office.

During campaigning, all the candidates dwelled mostly on their credibility to become a good constitutional president.

Very little is said about foreign relations, or about Singapore’s relationship with its closest neighbour, Malaysia.

Economic issues

They touched mostly on economic and social issues such as national wealth and the welfare of the citizens including the growing number of old folks.

They also spoke about how they would “work” with the PAP government to bring in more prosperity to Singapore.

The less PAP-leaning Tans – Kin Lian and Jee Say – spoke about checking the ruling party but the other PAP-affiliated contenders – Dr Tan and Cheng Bock – emphasised more on how they would perform their job as a constitutional president.

Though this election is “only” for a ceremonial office, it is not without some thrills, like when Cheng Bock suggested that the Prime Minister’s Office should move out of the palace (to make it exclusively Istana Presiden).

He believes that sharing the same compound with the president would “attract suspicion of undue influence”.

However, Dr Tan disagreed, saying that the location of the Prime Minister’s Office is just “a matter of geography”. He argued that what is more important is that the president be “independent-minded”.

One good thing about Singapore is that all four candidates were given a fair share of coverage in the media, both in the newspapers and television.

1 comment:

  1. Borneo jungle people.. when is your election for President ?


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