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The Elephants In Tony Tan’s Room

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Three ST reporters wrote a prime news piece on the presidential election carried in the paper’s Fri, 17 June 2011 edition (“Tony Tan seen as likely candidate”).

What caught my eyes were their glaring omission of any mention of potential conflict of interest between TT as the president (IF he gets elected) and TT as the ex-deputy chairman and executive director of GIC (IF he gets elected), not to mention TT’s position as chairman of SPH which effectively controls ALL print media publications in Singapore.

The other omission is their seeming lack of journalistic standards  and professional ethics. While they see it fit to quote an academic (Tan Ern Ser) whose ‘opinion’ on the issue is tentative at best, but convenient, since he made a disparaging remark about one of the presidential candidates (Tan Kin Lian) that obviously suited what the ST’s editorial board wants to hear and want to have printed in the same article in support of its own boss. Apple polishing, 101.

The fact is these three so called professional journalists had the temerity to do that but not the basic decency or courtesy to offer TKL , the target of academic Tan’s unprovoked scorn and belittling, the same opportunity to be heard. Is this the protocol or  code of practice of the Straits Times for a potential EP candidate who would be in competition with one of its own?

(And the ST has the gall to dispute its third world ranking by the world’s journalists!)

In contrast, Tan Cheng Bock, another candidate for the EP election, was literally given the full disposal of the columns, something like 19 lines in all! Not to mention George Yeo, whose post-Aljunied loss, post withdrawal from EP candidacy, future activities filled a 15 cm by 6 cm column of the report which appeared to have no other reason for inclusion than to pad the report.

But not a word was allowed for Mr Tan Kin Lian.

For the record the following two paragraphs are from TKL’s own blog which I am taking the liberty here to display:

These remarks would make lots of sense to every Singaporean who cares about the democratization and maturation of our state and governmental infrastructure and processes.

The bias in the reporting by the trio is so thick that the three could well choke on the goo they generate one day, if they are not careful and persist  in such an unprofessional manner. My hope for them is they would grow some spine and mend their wayward manners if they value their journalistic careers.

Back to TT. My bone of contention is his deep, very deep relationship with the ruling party. I have made my points known in a previous post and would therefore not repeat them. Please click on the links on the right to access them.

Is this not a familiar PAP govt style of communicating with us - through veiled threats? The familiar subtext is: That only the PAP has the calibre for some 'big' UNSPECIFIED 'thingy' that's going to happen. That we would be risking ourselves and our families if we opt for anything other than PAP?

It bears repeating that should TT become the president, then we can kiss goodbye to our collective hope for a people’s president. It will be STILLBORN, no thanks to the likes of this trio.

TT would not be unafraid to speak up and make a stand against a govt acting out of party self-interest and not the people’s, against ex-colleagues, against a familiar mindset which he himself would more than likely still see things with.

There is a practice (belief?) in the medical profession that a doctor should not operate on a patient with a serious illness who is also a close relative, for professional and personal reasons. Likewise, can we expect TT to be truly objective in an area where he himself was personally involved and has left his personal mark on it (the GIC)?

Perhaps more to the point, would we the people want another PAP man to hold the ‘other’ key to our national assets?

Wouldn’t it be like asking a guard to guard the guards?

Wouldn’t it be like the ruling party getting one of its own kind to judge themselves and what they do?

Wouldn’t it be like a soccer match where the referee comes from one of the two sides playing?

FIFA has a rule against this. Do we?



  1. Michael says:

    By hiding some pieces of information, here we begin ‘a clean slate PAP government’ in next 5 years.

  2. auntielucia says:

    Why quote Fifa rules? It’s not as if that org has covered itself in full glory! Anything BUT! 🙄

  3. I hope that the Elected President position is not a reward for ex-PAP loyalist as if it must be an ex-PAP highflyer who has proven his past servitude and loyalty to the ruling party. Why can’t prominent top ex-Civil Servants or key figures from the private sector who are well knwon by Singaporeans and have made significant contribution to Singapore development be considered. A good example would be Ngiam Tong Dow.

  4. […] – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: What DPM Teo is trying to tell us – Thetwophilo’s Blog: The Elephants In Tony Tan’s Room [Thanks yl] – The Satay Club: YOU WON’T BE MISSED, MR PRESIDENT – The Satay Club: WHY DID GEORGE […]

  5. jax says:

    sorry but i have to wonder how tan kin lian can believe that a president, in his efforts to stop a profligate govt do whatever dastardly act, “should be given all the needed support by the govt”. it seems naive. after all, why would such a govt give the prez the support to out its nefarious acts? and would the civil service dare step out and help the prez right wrongs?

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