Tan Kin Lian answers questions on election petition.

100,000 signatures so more people will step forward

Note: Mr Tan will be at Speakers' Corner this Saturday, 5pm to 7pm.

Tan Kin Lian / Columnist

I have received many questions on my request to collect 100,000 signatures of support to contest in the next general election or presidential election. I wish to give my answers below.

1. Why is there a need for a petition?

I want to give an opportunity for the people of Singapore to state if they wish to see an active contest for the next general election or presidential election. If a large number of people sign the petition, it will encourage more people (not just me) to come forward to take part in the contest.

In several past elections, there were no contests for many constituencies, as capable candidates were reluctant to come forward to contest under the alternative parties. Most of the candidates from the dominant party were not elected, and won by walkovers.

I hope that this situation can be changed. If there is a contest, the elected leaders will know that they have earned the support of the voters. This will give them a mandate to represent the voters.

2. Why 100,000 signatures? Would 10,000 signatures be sufficient?

100,000 signatures is for greater impact. It may take a longer time and more effort to achieve this high target, but it will be worth the effort. It allows a large number of people to be involved in this exercise. It can be like a referendum.

The person signing the petition is just expressing a wish for me to contest the election. It does not imply that he will vote for me.

3. Do you wish to contest in the general election or the presidential election?

I wish to keep this option open. Based on the first 220 signatories of the online petition, the majority (67%) want me to contest both elections.

4. Why do you ask for the e-mail address and telephone number of the signatory?

I wish to contact them by e-mail to keep them briefed about my future plans. I also hope to ask some of them to step forward and help me in my effort, or to get more people to sign the petition.

5. What changes do you wish to see in the political climate in Singapore?

I like to see the elected leaders understand and reflect the aspirations of their constituents and be their voice in Parliament. They should play an active role in debating and passing laws that are beneficial for the people. The elected leaders should be in touch with the people and should ensure that their concerns are adequately considered, before laws are passed.

I also hope that the economic and social policies will create a more just and equal society. These are two key values in our national pledge.

Many people find life to be too stressful in Singapore. The cost of living is too high and their wages are inadequate. They have to work hard just to survive. We need to implement policies that can give a better life for all the people, and not just for an elite few. I prefer our society to be more egalitarian.

6. Many people think that these changes require a strong political party. Will you be forming a new party? How about joining an existing political party?

If there is strong support, as reflected by a large number of signatures to the petition, and if more people are willing to step forward, then it is possible to set up a new political party.

I will also keep the option open to join an existing political party. I hope that the smaller parties can get together to cooperate with each other and perhaps, one day, to merge into a larger party.

7. Is it better for Singapore to have a multi-party system?

It is more important that the elected leaders should reflect the aspirations and wishes of the constituents. The leaders should be freely elected in a contest.

We should have two or more political parties with different platforms – for example, to be free market or regulated, to be pro-business or pro-people, to achieve higher growth or lower growth (and a better quality of life).

8. What is the deadline to achieve 100,000 signatures? What will you do, if you do not achieve this target within the deadline?

I do not have any definite deadline. I understand that the process of educating the public to be more politically-conscious can take a few years. We must be prepared for the long haul.

We need to educate the people that they have a say in determining the values of our society. They have a vote and their vote counts. They should elect leaders that they can trust to look after their interest.

9. Will you be able to attract sufficient high calibre people to join you?

It is more important that the elected leaders should have the passion to serve the people. They should be honest, fair minded, courageous and have a strong sense of right and wrong. They do not have to be highly educated or of high calibre. In fact, it is better if they are more in tune with the people that they represent.

10. Some people say that you have political ambition all along, and that you used the minibond crisis to promote your agenda. What are your comments?

Actually, it is the other way round.

After a few weeks on the minibond crisis, I was shocked with the approach of the government in handling this matter. They were not interested to listen to the investors who have lost their hard-earned savings and understand their anguish. Instead, they appear to have taken the side of the financial institutions. I find it so unjust to the affected people.

11. What is the key message that you wish to give to the people of Singapore?

Help me get 100,000 signatures.