No Government endorsement: Not fair to Presidential candidate?

Leong Sze Hian/

I refer to the article “Seven trade unions endorse Tony Tan: Presidential candidate also holds dialogue with SMCCI members, pays tribute to Malay community” (Today, Aug 12).

It states that:

“The seven unions are the first from the labour movement to announce their decision, following the NTUC’s new approach on endorsing presidential candidates.

NTUC chief Lim Swee Say had said earlier that unlike in the past Presidential Elections when it had thrown its support behind a candidate, this time round, the labour movement will facilitate opportunities for union leaders to meet the presidential hopefuls and let them decide who to support.”

Despite the NTUC chief’s remarks, NTUC’s president said on the same day that Dr Tony Tan “fits the bill” as the President.

So, isn’t this almost akin to an endorsement?

I believe many Singaporeans may be looking forward to the NTUC chief carrying out his facilitation of “opportunities for union leaders to meet the presidential hopefuls and let them decide who to support”, now that the opportunity has already been given to the first of the Presidential candidates, Dr Tony Tan. I think the other three “Tans” may be awaiting anxiously too.

Big sacrifice for the people

With regard to “Dr Tony Tan, who was the executive director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) before he resigned in order to put himself forward for the election”, I would like to applaud Dr Tony Tan for taking the unprecedented step of resigning from SPH and GIC, even though there is no requirement for him to do so.

This sacrifice on his part, in standing as a candidate for the Presidency, is not unsubstantial in monetary terms, as he is voluntarily giving up his current and possibly any future remuneration from these appointments.

Not fair to candidate?

As the Government has always had a candidate in the Presidential elections, with walkovers in the last two elections, why is it that the Government is not having a candidate for this coming elections?

Whilst I appreciate and accept Dr Tony Tan’s explanation that he is standing as an independent candidate without the backing of any political party or at the suggestion of the Government, in my view, unless the Government comes out with a statement to explain why it is not endorsing a candidate this time round, Dr Tony Tan’s chances may naturally be somewhat diminished by the Government’s silence in this regard.

With Dr Tony Tan’s sterling record of public service, it may in a way be quite unfair to him, and perhaps a loss to Singapore that he does not win if he starts his candidacy with the above-mentioned disadvantage.

So far, many members of Government, including the Prime Minister and former Senior Minister, have said that Dr Tony Tan would make a good President, short of an outright endorsement.

In this connection, media reports and the internet blogs are already abuzz about this issue.

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