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Would we be at Square “0” if Tony Tan is the president?

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Indeed, would we be at Square Zero if Tony Tan is the president? ST, Wed, June 8 2011 reported that Dr Tony Tan could be interested in joining the race for the elected presidency. Well, he did not say it in so many words apparently. According to the ST he has hinted it in his reply to a press question.

Was it the work of an over imaginative reporter? But surely his editor would have double checked this kind of news. At any rate, as at today, June 9, there was nothing in the ST, no report of any clarifications or a disclaimer from TT to correct any ‘misunderstanding’ on the part of the press. So, from this we can quite safely assume that he is indeed thinking about it. We would definitely know with more certainty if the press were to report later that he has indeed collected the necessary application forms.

In my wildest imagination, I did not expect this run up to the day of ‘reckoning’ for the elected presidency to develop into a hot game of chess of sorts. (Although I did use the term ‘checkmate’ in one of my posting on this issue. I used it to describe what the govt could do to stop an ‘unfriendly’ president!

If you like you can check out two other posts at:



It is getting to be like a game of chess because clearly there are two sides involved –the people versus the govt. The govt made the first move, offering Tan Cheng Bock, and with the help of the MSM it played up his ‘contributions’ which unfortunately in real terms amounted to nothing more than making a lot of noise and empty posturing in parliament. But, in truth his performance had been NATO, nothing to shout about.

As public perception and reception to TCB gradually waned and soured (and who can blame the public?) the govt pushes out a reluctant George Yeo, who has received a lot of sympathetic press and web postings for his GE2011 defeat at the hands of the giant killing WP. (A classic case of ‘the vultures coming back to roost’ or very simply, the GRC has finally boomeranged on its thrower – the PAP govt. )

But, George Yeo had already limited his own chances, burned his own bridges, from the start when he clearly and unequivocally dismissed the idea of ever stepping into the shoes of the elected president by pointing out that he is a ‘free spirit’.

Actually, he made a Freudian slip – it says that he knows the inside story of how the govt has already introduced the means to straightjacket the presidency after the ‘OTC experience.’

Now, back to TT. He no doubt has offered some distinguished service to the GOVT, has served it loyally throughout, including returning to the cabinet even after having left it. But, unfortunately, he is not a people-oriented person despite his polite and pleasant disposition. A mathematician by profession, HE IS A TECHNOCRAT THROUGH AND THROUGH.

He would not be my idea of a people’s president because he operates by cold logic and rationale, which is good when confronting and challenging an adversary, but not a comfortable feeling when he applies the same mindset in dealing with his own people. Bear in mind too that he is a banker.

I think we are all agreed that we already have up to our eye brows of such cold, calculating types in the PAP dominated parliament. Surely we don’t need one more of such ‘types’ for a job that precisely requires the opposite quality from someone who could think out of the box to protect the people from the PAP juggernaut or a rogue govt? IMHO, Dr Tony Tan would not be able to do this given his long association with the ruling party. The PAP has been in his blood for far too long.

Furthermore, he possesses a veto factor’ – something which should automatically disqualify him from the post of the elected president, given that a primary role of the EP is to protect our reserves. As the executive director and deputy chairman of GIC, TT has a direct conflict of interest on this issue.

To date, Singaporeans have only indirect third party’s and very vague, cursory and bare-bone info on the affairs and dealings of the SWF or sufficient details of the performance of the GIC and Temasek. In the latest news report we have been told that all the losses has been recovered. Surely, the matter cannot be as simple as that! We want details of the past 5 years. We don’t want ‘filtered’ information via the people’s president. If as deputy chairman and executive director of the GIC he is not prepared to use his discretion and knowledge to inform us, why should we expect him to be different if he is the EP?

For parents of disabled and handicapped children you should bear in mind that TT was for many years the Education Minister. If my memory serves me correctly, he was in the midst of all the tinkering and tweaking of the education system. Today, I have just read the report that the new Education Minister, Heng Swee Kiat has received an avalanche of mail from parents with suggestions to solve the multiplicity of woes besieging our children in schools and the education system itself.

The point I want to make concerns the education of disabled and handicapped children in our midst. It is this: The MOE has refused to accept or take responsibility for their education. In effect such children has been ostracized and neglected for generations and by generations of education ministers.

Such children remained essentially in the periphery of our schools system as  ‘basket cases’ for charitable organizations to take up. And, by the way, teachers of charitable organizations providing education for our disabled and handicapped children are NOT on the payroll of the MOE and are in fact employed on much more inferior salary and benefits schemes than those enjoyed by the regular MOE teachers, despite their patently much more challenging role of educating the disabled and handicapped.

In the ‘special schools’, resources and means such as finance, funding and trained manpower are perpetual problems. I know from an encounter that TT did not have a sympathetic ear for the educational needs of such children. 

Now, the entry of TT into the ring is obviously prompted by what the PAP sees as a very real challenge posed by Tan Kin Lian. That TKL’s intention to vie for the EP does not sit well with the establishment is all too obvious to me from the backhanded manner that the current EP, Nathan, spoke about TKL’s plan and ideas if elected, as reported in the ST on 8 June 2011.

Suffice it to say, you would not find Nathan using subtly sarcastic and dismissive words like ‘I won’t want to belittle his enthusiasm. If he can do it, good luck to him’ if he is making a reference to what someone like GY or TCB had said. Clearly, TKL is regarded as ‘NOT PAP Family’ now, notwithstanding that he was a PAP member. To me this is good news.

On TKL, he appears to be one who is down to earth and his track record shows he puts the money where his mouth is. He is no politician. He is proposing to do those things concerning the safekeeping and protection of our national reserves that the vast majority of Singaporeans, myself included, would want to see done.

TKL is someone I can choose with assurance against the group of ‘dyed-to-the-core’ PAP elites of TCB, GY, N and now TT, lined up on the opposite side, who are essentially members of the PAP family. (An aside: I do not expect N to remain a contender if at least two of these three join the race.)

IMO, the only thing that would keep TKL out of the race is the presidential council whose members are made up of people who ultimately report to cabinet ministers. My own feel is that they would be searching high and low for any and every excuse to disqualify TKL from even standing for election. That is how much they fear the potential of the man and how dearly they want to keep the EP in the PAP ‘family’.

N.B. The author has no affiliation with any political party. He was an admirer of the PAP until it became evident that it has changed beyond recognition and no longer bear any semblance to the party that he had originally once admired. He feels it his duty to point out that the country is going down the drain if current trends continue unarrested



  1. Protons says:

    Well summarised! The way I see it, PAP has been sending out all sorts of fillers to “test” the water. Especially having suffered a big setback in the social media space, they’re definitely throwing out every possible names of candidates that they want to endorse and hope that the public/people will respond to it favourably.

    From GY, Nathan, TCB to now TT. I would even hedge my bet that they’re going to throw out a woman candidancy. Lim Hwee Hua anyone?! LOL

    This is getting to be an interesting case.

  2. Neela says:

    Tan Kin Lian is the right person among all. He is down to earth, straight forward, qualified on financial and insurance matters, not affiliated with any organisation and independent and above all honest! He is People’s President if eligble! Vote for him!

  3. […] can learn from Worker’s Party – Article 14: Reshaping the Presidency – Thetwophilo’s Blog: Would we be at Square ’0′ if Tony Tan is the president? [Thanks yl] – Singapore Notes: Jayakumar’s Reality Check – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: […]

  4. Henry says:

    Great article. The words by Nathan ‘I won’t want to belittle his enthusiasm. If he can do it, good luck to him’ is so very unbecoming of a president.

  5. 'Mat says:

    What can you expect from a prata man?

  6. Singapore Voter says:

    TT (reminds me of the other TT with Durai following after) has the following issues that voters must know:

    1. As Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings, was/is/has been responsible for the one-sided pro-PAP slant in all the mass media published under SPH, thereby short-changing Singaporeans of full and unbiased information that the public needed to form oppinions of the PAP and the PAP Govt’s real performance …..

    2. As Deputy Chairman of GIC, huge losses were suffered during the period from 2007 to 2008, and perhaps also 2009 – of which he is directly responsible, other than the Chairman of GIC …..

    3. As Deputy PM, he supported the foreign talents scheme against preference for Singaporeans ….

    4. As Education Minister, he was instrumental for giving better preference to foreign students than giving more places and opportunities for/to Singaporeans ….

    5. The list goes on …..

    I stand corrected if I have said anything not so appropriate or controversial or not so accurate.

    • thetwophilo says:

      I believe your points are all within the ballpark! Apart from TT, GY is another cause for worry among Singaporeans. You can see the ST (meaning the SPH, under Tony Tan) is already at work with its propaganda in today’s Sunday Times. Has GY or has he not to date come up with any explanation for his 180 degrees about turn regarding his original clearly stated disinterest in the EP post and also his gravely made vow to personally play an important role in ‘TRANSFORMING’ the PAP which MANY OF US TAKE SERIOUSLY IN VIEW OF THE OBVIOUS DECADENCE AND ROT EATING AWAY THE INNARDS OF HIS PARTY?

      It is quite apparent that he has now WITH GREAT ALACRITY turned his back on all his own words, words that were made ENTIRELY OUT OF HIS OWN VOLITION without a gun pressed against his neck or other inducement!

      Yet, one more case of amnesia, the ‘superbug’ that is regularly making its round in the Singapore cabinet?

      One wonders if his words are now nothing more than water down a duck’s back? Mr Yeo?

      Netizen should not allow themselves to be taken for a ride once again. He should not be allowed to get away with such acts without properly accounting for it. If he chooses to be not forthcoming, we can justifiably conclude a couple of things: He is a hypocrite and his words are not worth the paper it’s written on. Is that the type we want as our EP, even if the EP’s role is largely ceremonial? It would definitely affect my confidence where the EP’s heaviest of burdens are concerned – that of safeguarding our reserves and making sure that cronyism does not creep into the appointment of our most senior and crucial civil servants, such as the chief justice, police commissioner and chief of defence forces.

  7. Tony Say says:

    Very well written article. I too think the best counter balance is Mr Tan Kin Lian. I am especially impressed at the speed with which he offered to help the people who had issues with their investments in high notes etc. Interestingly Tony Tan with his background in banking and international stuff did not offer to help . I am sure that he does not have the true people’s needs at heart – I will go for Mr Tan Kin Lian !!!

  8. Alan Tang says:

    Excellent piece of analysis! Thks.

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