SINGAPORE: Ex-NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian has confirmed that he plans to contest the upcoming presidential, if he is found eligible, and has revealed that he has already submitted his application forms for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to the Elections Department.
Mr Tan Kin Lian, who contested the last open presidential race in 2011, acknowledged that he possibly will see slim odds if he faces off with Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the polls. He, however, promised to be loyal to those who vote for him and do his best to alleviate the cost of living issues many Singaporeans are grappling with.
In a series of three successive posts published on Sunday evening (July 30), he said: “I already submitted my application for the Certificate of Eligibility three weeks ago. The other candidates probably have not submitted yet.
“My chance of winning the presidential election against Tharman is probably 10%. Tharman is a popular and formidable opponent. If Singaporeans vote for me as president, I will work with the government to bring down the cost of living. I am loyal to people who support me.”
Just a few weeks ago, Mr Tan said he was in two minds about whether he should contest the impending Presidential Election, even though he is eligible for the contest according to revised rules.
Having been a former member of the governing People’s Action Party (PAP) for 30 years, Mr Tan Kin Lian left the party in 2008 due to his inactivity and disagreements with the party’s value system.
He contested the four-cornered 2011 presidential election but received the lowest number of votes among the four candidates, losing his S$48,000 deposit.
In a statement on 6 July, Mr Tan Kin Lian indicated that he is open to putting himself forth as an independent and alternative choice but added that his hesitance comes from the fact that he and his family found their experience during the 2011 presidential race traumatic.
Revealing that the outcome of the 2011 election was a “profound personal disappointment,” Mr Tan said:
“Having actively participated in the presidential election of 2011, my experience left me disheartened. Despite investing a significant amount of personal funds, exceeding $100,000, and enduring a grueling campaign that spanned several weeks, I received less than 5% of the votes and lost my $50,000 deposit.”
He added that the election’s aftermath proved “equally challenging” as some blamed him for splitting votes and causing Tan Cheng Bock to lose the race. Calling such claims “unjust,” Mr Tan said: “Such baseless and malicious accusations implied that the presidency was somehow owed to Tan CB, undermining the essence of fair competition.”
Initially, Mr Tan believed that he would not be eligible for the upcoming race since he retired from full-time work more than 16 years ago, surpassing the qualifying period of 15 years that was in place during the 2011 election.
However, he recently learned that the qualifying period had been extended to 20 years, making him the only qualifying prospective candidate from the three candidates who lost the 2011 election.
Mr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say would not meet the revised eligibility requirement of running an organization with shareholder’s equity of $500 million, an increase from the $100 million requirement in 2011.
Mr Tan, however, said: “Despite my eligibility, I find myself uninterested in pursuing the presidency. I am now 75 years old, and my family members strongly object to my involvement due to the traumatic experiences they endured during the previous election, including ridicule from certain individuals who knew them.”
At the heart of Mr Tan’s dilemma appears to be his aversion to seeing Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam get elected without contest by walkover.
While Mr Tan welcomes the prospective candidacy of entrepreneur George Goh Ching Wah, he said that the shroud of doubts over whether Mr Goh will qualify for the race had left his friends urging him to throw his hat into the ring. Mr Tan said:
“I was happy to learn that George Goh has expressed interest and enthusiasm in participating as an independent candidate, offering a refreshing alternative to the ruling party. He has assembled an impressive team and devised a compelling campaign strategy. Unfortunately, some friends have informed me that George Goh does not meet the candidacy requirements and is unlikely to be approved.
Under these circumstances, my friends have urged me to enter the race in order to prevent a walkover. They perceived that it is a “duty” for me to participate, given my eligibility.”
Asking whether voters would actively support his candidacy given that he might put himself forth as part of a “duty” to give people a choice, Mr Tan added:
“One suggestion proposed that I submit my application for eligibility and, in the event that George Goh’s candidacy is approved as well, I could withdraw my application to avoid splitting the votes. This course of action would be seen as a noble gesture made in the interest of the people.
However, if George Goh’s candidacy was rejected, I might have to stand against the candidate supported by the ruling party and would face significant disadvantages. Without the backing of a political party, I would struggle to effectively reach out to the people and communicate my message.”
He asked, “What should I do? As the days unfold, I hope for some form of enlightenment that may provide clarity and guidance regarding my potential involvement in the upcoming election.”
It appears that Mr Tan has found the enlightenment he needed to make a decision. He is now among four hopefuls Singaporeans believe may be found eligible, including Mr Tharman, Mr Goh and ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song. /TISG
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