Dr Tan Cheng Bock who lost to Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam by mere 7,382 votes in the 2011 Presidential Election, has announced his intention to contest the next Presidential Election which must be held by 2017.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock brandished his many appointments, qualifications and credentials in several large corporations, associations and not-for-profit organisations to showcase that he was well qualified to contest the upcoming election.
When asked about the Constitutional Commission which is reviewing specific aspects of the Elected Presidency, Dr Tan said that the Commission is comprised of many respectable people and headed by the Chief Justice, Sundaresh Menon, and so he believed that they would do what is right for the country and not what is right for a political party.
Dr Tan pressed home the point that the Elected Presidency was one of the more prominent legacy of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and that it was extensively debated in Parliament before it was passed. Expressing that he was part of that robust debate in Parliament, Dr Tan said that any changes to the Constitution should bear in mind the importance of having an independent president who will act as the second key, to safeguard Singapore’s reserves.
Dr Tan stressed that if elected he will not be a combative President, for the President needs to respect that the Government was elected by the people, but that he will not hesitate to confront if he felt that it was in the interest of Singaporeans to do so. Even then, such confrontations need not be open ones, he explained, but private conversations with the Minister(s) involved.
When asked what his views were about the electability of a minority candidate, Dr Tan said that when discussing such issues, one should not forget that the role of the President had changed from a ceremonial one, to a custodial one. If Singapore reverted back to the ceremonial Presidency, than it may be easier for minorities to be elected, he said. A ceremonial President though may not have all the powers an Elected President will have, he remarked.
Dr Tan feels that what is more important is for the Elected President to uphold the multi-racial principle of Singapore, and for him or her to be suitably qualified to protect the reserves.
When queried why he was announcing his intention to contest so early, Dr Tan said that he had the experience of contesting 6 General Elections successfully, but that was in a small Ayer Rajah constituency. In comparison, the contest for the Presidency covers the entire island, and that it is good for him to make a head-start because every vote mattered to him. “I will not take any voter for granted,” he said.
Dr Tan said that if he is elected, Singapore would be a shining example to the rest of the world because it would be able to witness that the Government is able to work with a President who is not from the same political party.
Throughout the press conference, Dr Tan kept emphasising over-and-over again that he is independent minded and that he will act with what he thinks is in the best interest of Singaporeans, if he is elected.
If elected, Dr Tan Cheng Bock promised to bring all the political parties together to engage in meaningful discussions about Singapore’s future, and to be a unifying force of the country.
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