The Online Citizen

What “Tan Kin Lian For President” means

August 12
11:41 2011

The following is an excerpt from ‘Think Happiness’

Dharmendra Yadav/

Tan Kin Lian is no politician. He is a simple man, with a fiercely independent streak. He says it like it is. He has an acute sense of what is right or wrong, and often does what he feels is right. He is decisive, prepared to take chances and ever ready to learn from the mistakes he makes. He is candid about his strengths because of his conscious preference to focus on what is positive.

When he wanted to reduce the cost of motor insurance, he stood up against the motor workshops. At industry meetings, he rattled other insurers with his unbendable resolve. Some motor workshop operators ended up in jail. Cases also went all the way up to the Court of Appeal to secure precedents that would bind judges in the lower courts.

As former corporate counsel of NTUC Income, I know Tan Kin Lian is a passionate advocate of the rule of law.

I once met a District Judge at an event for the legal fraternity. She asked most accusingly, “Why does NTUC Income send so many cases to court? Why can’t you all just settle the matters? Why are you always appealing decisions?”

I replied, “Firstly, we want a fair outcome for all parties involved in the matter. Secondly, ma’am, you should be grateful we send so many cases. It means the courts are kept busy and we create jobs for people like you.”

Not surprisingly, she found my answer unimpressive. She is still actively hearing motor insurance cases in the Subordinate Courts. When I became a trial lawyer some years later, I had the good fortune to appear before her weekly. I am not sure if she felt likewise.

In the meantime, Tan Kin Lian moved on to other causes. He single-handedly took on financial institutions in Singapore, when many lawyers were reluctant to take on these companies for fear of never being instructed in cases from such organisations. He gave relevance to the Speakers’ Corner by organising the largest gathering of protestors in the history of that public space. He pressured our financial regulators to remarkably change the retail space for investment products in a manner that protected consumers.

These are the stories that people know of Tan Kin Lian. There are many other untold stories of him.

Read the full article here.


  • popcorn

    Tan may not be perfect as a person, no looks, petty in certain ways, not articulate enough, hot headed, but his performance as CEO of NTUC Income cannot be belittled. More so, his performance in taking up the cause of ordinary investors, being cheated by the Financial Institutions in the Lehman Bros’ structured Derivatives, is one that citizens should give credit for.
    Finally his offer of donating at least half of the presidential pay to charities
    finally get our share of the vote for him. At least, we know a part of the taxes we pay go to the poor.

  • Analyst

    TKL stands up for what he believes in. He deserves more credit than people give him. I personally would like to vote for him, but my greatest concern is that my vote won’t count. I would then have to go for my 2nd choice, TCB, who has a much better chance to stop Tony from winning.

  • Tan Kin Lian … Time to Retire !!!


    Hi Tan Kin Lian,

    Stop wasting your time & saliva … Withdraw the Nomination Day & let Tan Jee Say has the 3 corner fight with ex-PAPs.

    Do what you can for country, not what country do for you …

    Your popularity polling number has dropped drastically.

    Stop becoming like egoistic sucker before Singaporeans will start kicking your axx during the election !!!


  • Jee say

    I think Dr Tan Cheng Bock,Mr Tan Jee Say And Mr Tan kin Lian are three nice men.
    But Mr Tan Jee Say is the best to take the current aassignment as the new President has to tackle many points with regrards to RESERVE,TOP APPOINTMENTS,ETC

    May Tan Jee say be the new president!

  • JR

    Good for you Mr.DY than kindly vote for TKL.Others have better choices in their mind,like Mr Tan Jee Say.

  • Will help Tony Tan win

    TKL and TJS will likely take votes away from TCB and help Tony tan win.

  • Analyst

    Dear All,

    Please read the comments by poster “Irrational Exuberance” under the article “All 4 Tans receive Certificate of Eligibility”. He sums up the situation best. Don’t fall into PAP trap by splitting our votes.

  • Nigel Yong

    I really think that TCB will win due to his track record of speaking up..

    Ultimately singaporeans will vote for the candidate they can trust.. I highly doubt with all the furor surrounding TKL, he has gained much trust from Singaporeans..

    So far TCB and TJS have been quite clean on this front..

  • VoteforTanKinLian

    Analyst, please vote for Tan Kin Lian. Tan Cheng Bock if elected, will be another quiet President. I dont think a quiet President can be effective.

    Income changed a lot after Tan Kin Lian left, it is now more ‘commercialised’ and profit oriented. I had wanted to buy a mortgage insurance but after seeing the proposal, I gave up. The premium was just too high! So ridiculous! This is the 1st time I did not go ahead with insurance. Motor car insurance premium also went up so much, last time I did not have to get another quote from other insurer as I know Income always got the best deal but not now. Income – though still ‘co-operative’ is no different from other commercialise insurers and I no longer consider Income as my No. 1 choice in insurance matters.

  • leehsientow

    The real “fight” – for most middle-ground Singaporeans sick and tired of the PAP’s elitist shenanigans – is between Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say. Tony Tan is a non-starter because of his son’s issue and the university education betrayal and because of his association with all the unacceptable parts of the PAP’s policies. Tan Kin Lian does not have any record of political service for the public to assess him by and being such a lightweight he does not have the stature and connections of the other three candidates. Tan Jee Say would have been a strong candidate if not for his link to the grandstanding Chee Soon Juan (people are not comfortable with such a man). I can’t imagine the Cabinet allowing a man with such a link any access to the minutes of Cabinet meetings which SR Nathan said he got without having to ask. The most acceptable candidate would, therefore be Tan Cheng Bock who, I believe, has the support of many Singaporeans who want to see someone be the country’s conscience and unifying force. The Ayer Rajah MP has the record, the standing and the right temperament to be our next Executive President.

  • Jason Sim

    I think its of note to click on the link and read the rest of the article – its a very well balanced piece – and make’s a lot of logical sense as opposed to emotional fire.

  • doppelganger

    Listening to the speakers on TV about the powers of the elected president leads me to the conclusion that he has no powers at all but is a true extension of the will of the Cabinet. He the President is a lame duck and lacks the freewill and free speach of even the ordinary citizenry. The PAP is about to foist an expensive puppet on us ironically to maintain the prevalent state institutions supporting the culture of fear.

  • Ultimate Warrior

    TKL is good in some areas but he should not blame the whole world (including his’ subordinates) but himself for investments that fail and take credit for investments that worked.

  • NSman

    I cannot understand what is so important in donating part of the salary to charity if elected.

    TKL stated in his blog “As a public service, I had pledged to donate at least half of the salary to charity and other worthy causes. None of the other candidates have made any pledge on this kind.”

    So what TKL, what is so great about donating only part? You said “As a public service…”. Since you want to perform public service, don’t just give a half past six effort, donate the full amount! And why must the other candidates give the same pledge as you?

    Please take a leaf from our late President Yusuf Ishak, he donated FULL salary ($17,000 per month) to charity and we only come to know only recently. This is the kind of leader we respect, and President Ishak earned it, without a shadow of doubt! Learn TKL, learn, from the man whose pictures you have kept in your wallet every day.

    And you are still asking for respect by repeating your ‘donation’? No, TKL, we are choosing a president not because he is donating such and such an amount to charity, the Office of the President is much more than that.

    Please do not irk fellow Singaporeans anymore with your greater than great donation pledge.

    Lastly, listen to the advice of the good samaritans around you. When they request that you step aside from the contest, it is a polite way to tell you that you should not be in the race. You look intelligent enough to be able to listen to what is not spoken.

  • doppelganger

    After the TV show featuring what the president can do and cannot do, I am really doubtful that he can improve anything in the lives of Singaporeans. Whoever is elected, whether it is Tony Tan or one of the other Tans, will be forced by Law to say what the Ruling Party wishes him to say. And the Law Minister does not mince words when he suggested that a judge in Court can step in to decide what the president can say, have said and should say. In other words, the Ruling Party will make sure that nothing is uttered by the President which is not the things that they themselves would have uttered and they would pursue him legally if he crosses the line. This Government is trigger happy when it comes to the Courts because that is the arena where many stalwarts have met their doom, I mean loss of everything they own. So we are about to install a President who must be a lame duck for him to co-exist with the Ruling Party. Is such a president worth the astronomical sums we must pay out to upkeep him? I do not understand why non of the speakers in the TV talk show on the president ask the question why do we need a President at all, especially if he can operate only on such narrow terms. The scenario of a president safeguarding the reserves is farcical considering that the president has to have the behaviour of a lap dog if he is to survive in the job. I am sure that there are other methods to safeguard the state reserves that do not require the interposition of a deadweight.

    So why have a President?

  • First name Tony last name Lee

    TKL comes across to me as Independent minded and fair and diplomatic. Suitable as president who needs to deal with foreign dignitaries.

    TJS is your choice if you want the most Check on pap.

    I go for TJS. What the country needs now.
    2nd choice TKL.
    3rd , there is no third simply bcos of track record.

  • pugdragon

    Tan Kin Lian gets my vote. He is the only presidential candidate who spoke against conscription. He also spoke against foreign influx & overcrowded public transport (one of the other presidential candidates spoke about these as well, though I could not remember which one, but definitely not the PAP-endorsed one.)

    Conscription is a major concern for me, I disagree completely with slavery & training to bear arms in preparation of killing another being, so I’ll go for the one who at least disagrees on the conscription front. I understand other people for wanting to choose TJS or TCB for their reasons, for the sake of their future, their family, & the country. People wanting to vote for Tony Tan are either benefitting from PAP’s pro-foreigner policies or lack the ability to question the PAP & take everything at face value, what they see on TV & newspapers.

  • andrew leung

    Mr Tan Kin Lian, if you are not elected as the President, will you donate half of your retirement income to charity for the next 6 years?

  • Votes already splitting here

    All the I vote for TKL and I will give my vote to TJS is making TT very happy. The overall strategy to dilute support for the seemingly non-pap camp is materialising, right here at this thread. So sad….

  • Right person, wrong office

    Mr Tan Kin Lian, I have no doubt about your sincerity to serve and your sense of righteousness.

    My question is, why run for President then? That is a role where these qualities would be LEAST effective.

    I would have loved to see you as an opposition MP, so I was a bit disappointed that you didn’t show up at GE2011.

    I’m not sure if you’ll consider yourself too old by GE2016, but just in case you might want to run, I will NOT be voting for you as President.

    Simple Citizen

  • Han

    The way I see it: TT did not want the job in the first place. He took it up out of obligation to PAP. TCB is a result of a split in PAP. TJS is clearly in to drive his GE agenda. TKL is the only one truely motivated by the spirit to serve the country and took the courage to step forward in the Presidential Election. Vote for TKL.

  • chou Ah Lian

    TKL as president than Singaporean will start to follow the blink eyes disease because after watching the president blink eyes non stop on TV. Also the female population after seeing the president’s wife picture on the wall with fake double eyes lid the aunties would rush to plastic surgery center to have the double eye lid surgery done. Better go and buy up the shares involving eyes doctors…..

  • Steve Goh

    netizens seem to favor tan jee say. But I feel he talks nonsense sometimes -like shutting down manufacturing sector & temasek holdings – it’s just impractical- am sure gahmen will never accede to.

  • xxx

    GE is different from EP.

  • andrew leung

    What is going to happen to Mr Tan Kin Lian after he makes his bid for the Presidency and loses. The people will be watching expectantly his every move.

  • JR

    andrew leung-

    TKL will find ways and means to get into the news and TV one way or another,habit from NTUC INCOME days.

  • Rodolfo

    We need principled people like Tan Kin Lian. And having him as President may bring about an airing of issues that may improve the lives of ordinary Singaporeans. He may bring certain things to the attention of ministers who in the past had been a little preoccupied with quantitative data and insulated from the goings on at the ground level.

    But I have reservations about what he might do in times of great uncertainty. If Tan Kin Lian were President at a time when Singapore is facing financial abyss like in year 2008, would he hold the country’s prosperity hostage on grounds of principle? Would he withhold the key to the reserves? Would he be willing to cut an imperfect deal with the govt of the day to keep Singapore humming? I am very wary of people who are overly rigid and hang on too tightly to their ideals. There are many things in life that are in varying shades of grey. When Tan Kin Lian faces such a situation, what would he do?

  • andrew leung

    Mr Tan Kin Lian, what are the charities that you intend to donate to with the $2 million per year or $12 million over 6 years.

  • nobody

    TKL will made the last exit out for EP. He is the TRUE HERO for the nation. The Next EP, then may we consider you.

  • Perry

    @Nigel Yong 12 August 2011

    >>… singaporeans will vote for the candidate they can trust..
    So far … TJS have been quite clean on this front..
    Are you so sure? Read on

    By TheRealTruth
    @Temasek Review 13 August 2011

    Dear Fellow Singaporeans

    In the interest of transparency and in the spirit of being the voice of conscience, this is to correct the false impression that is conveyed in the Sunday Times article about Tan Jee Say (tjs).

    Tjs has no moral righteousness, compass or anchor and blows where the winds of opportunity takes him. He quit the government when it became apparent that he would not become permanent secretary.

    After quitting the government, he first joined Morgan Grenfell, then Peregrine Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and finally AIB Govett.

    When Morgan Grenfell came knocking, tjs jumped at the chance. He promised them to bring in much monies from the Malaysian conglomerates which he came into contact with during his tenure at the Ministry of Trade & Industry. His results at Morgan Grenfell speak for themselves, tjs did not deliver the monies and his peers soon found that he was a light weight load of hot air.

    His stay at Peregrine Bank was just as short lived. In fact, he had a contributory role in Bank Peregrine’s eventual demise. His poor judgement, resulted in his failure to dispense proper advice that the investment into an Indonesian concern was not viable. Tjs, the person responsible failed to do appropriate due diligence. Peregrine’s subsequent bankruptcy saw him packing his bags again.

    At AIB Govett, it was reported that his strength was in policy making. This firm collapsed whilst others survived. Obviously tjs’s policies were wrong. This forebodes poorly on the potential for tjs to be EP as at every employment stop he has demonstrated poor judgement. Translate this into safeguarding our nation’s reserves and it will result in disastrous consequences.

    Tjs’s next stops at Standard Chartered Bank and Hi Green is also empty of significant contributions. He was forced out of Standard Chartered by his Indian FT boss.

    His claim to be ‘not a lavish man’ is a distortion of the truth. In his ‘high flying’ years, tjs openly boasted that his income tax contributions were higher than an average man’s annual income. Tjs aspired to the lifestyle of his successful PAP friends and his banking colleagues. Tjs had his fair share of thoughts about redeveloping his Frankel Avenue house into a mansion.

    It is obvious that tjs squandered his wealth on ill conceived and dubious ventures in his empty years. If tjs had prudently invested his wealth, he would be fairly well off. This can be verified by any banker.

    2006 till present, tjs was unemployable as by that time the banking industry had seen tjs for what he was, no substance and only hot air.

    Let the people exam tjs’s empty years for themselves. And these were indeed empty as he was trying to chase his ‘China make money’ dream backed up by the casual connections made when he accompanied government officials in China state visits earlier.

    There was also an abortive attempt at marketing Chinese breast enhancement drug treatments in Singapore. Not surprisingly, it failed.

    His attempt to provide training of bank personnel also failed as tjs could not deliver what he promised.

    Acquiring a certificate in Islamic finance, he tried to hawk his credentials as an Islamic finance adviser. Predictably this flopped too.

    Tjs is a serial failure after quitting the government.

    There is also an erroneous reporting that Tjs’s wife was an investment banker. This is inaccurate. Pls verify for yourself which investment bank she was employed under. In fact, Mrs tjs abused her position when she was with their 4th child. NTUC Income would not grant her paid maternity leave so she took unpaid leave but traded on her information from the NTUC Income equity positions she managed to make money for herself. In what ever manner one looks at this, this is a conflict of interest.

    Tjs’s selective use of reality makes him dangerous to Singapore.

    Reporting that tjs is an independent candidate is also erroneous. He was brought up through the PAP system and for a time worked within the system when he was PPS to DPM GOH. In truth, tjs is a rogue PAP onion setting his own agenda to revenge the wrong that he perceives the PAP had done to him under the disguise of public interest.

    Tjs cannot claim to be a people’s man and have the Singaporeans’ interest at heart. For those who know tjs, he thinks highly of himself, is full of airs, highly opinionated, talks down to people. No way can Tjs be Singapore’s President

    Closing factories, moving workers to Batam, disbanding Temasek Holdings, closing casinos, draw $60 billion from reserves to finance his hare brained schemes, etc all came from his lips. Has he seriously thought through what he is proposing, or is he just shooting from the hips to rouse mob hysteria. His endorsement by Chee Soon Juan and his EP campaign being financed by SDP make him beholden to Chee Soon Juan, and thereby a SDP spokesman, and not representative of all Singaporeans.

    I feel that tjs does not have ALL SINGAPOREANS’ interest at heart; tjs has an axe to grind with the PAP because he is disgruntled that his dreams of higher government office was not realized.

    This is very dangerous and a threat to our country’s stability and because of this I feel strongly to disclose what I have discovered about tjs so that the TRUTH be correctly reported.

    Best regards

  • Liam HK
  • DC

    I will vote for TKL because i do not want another crony or an argumentative figurehead as my country’s president.

    As for TCB, he baffles me as a second best to TT. I feel like he is fighting for attention by coming up with creative ideas that don’t quite hit the mark. Move the PM out of the Istana? No rally because you have a surprise in store? Plus, a lack of financial acumen makes me worried.

    - Just your average 29-year-old Singaporean.