by: Jewel Philemon/
The 2011 Presidential Election’s first lunchtime rally was kicked off by Dr Tony Tan, yesterday at 12.30pm. A crowd of two-thousand over people gave up their lunch hours and battled the hot sun as they gathered at UOB Plaza to hear the presidential hopeful make his speech.
Supporters outfitted in off-white caps with the trademark spectacles of Dr Tan’s campaign handed out identical hats and fliers, postcards and bookmarks. A group of Dr Tan’s supporters from Sembawang GRC chopped a place near the fans and practiced their cheer, the very imaginative, “Tony Tan, President! President, Tony Tan!” Bottles of water were almost emptied by the time Jennifer Lewis, Dr Tan’s campaign manager and editor of Straits Times’ STOMP, called the attention of the audience and introduced the list of speakers which included television personality Ms Sharon Au, Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clans and UNIFEM president, Ms Trina Liang-Lin.
Tried, Tested and True
President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr Lawrence Leow, opened the session parroting Dr Tan’s campaign slogan, ‘Tested, Trusted and True’. He cited Dr Tan’s familiarity in politics and qualifications as important qualities befitting a president, saying, “With his experience, knowledge, standing and charisma, he (Dr Tan) will be able to discharge all the duties of a president. Cast your vote for Dr Tony Tan as he is tried, tested and true!”
Similarly, Ms Trina Liang-Lin, echoed Mr Leow’s sentiments saying, “A president who is calm and collected and someone who can advise the counsel is what Singapore needs now...Dr Tan is tried and tested and has been proven time and again.”
Mr Sean Rozario, the fifth speaker, then made a two minute speech outlining why he thought Dr Tan deserved to be president. “He is the most suitable to be president. Defence minister, Deputy Prime Minister speaks for itself. Vote for would-be president, Tony Tan.”
“He is the president that Singapore needs today”, states Ms Eileen Aw, long-time friend of Dr Tan. She recounts how she met Dr Tan and their friendship of twenty years, saying, “In 20 years I have seen Dr Tony Tan in crisis situations...he always gives clear headed solutions: simple, thorough, far-sighted and imaginative.”
Ms Aw highlights why she too would vote for Tony Tan. “He is internationally known!”, she declares. She continues, “He is a president I can be proud of: A president who has international stature.”
WHY Dr Tony Tan?
"My story about a humble background, a good career, with a good salary, of local and global opportunities... is not unique. I am sure most of you share this story as well. What allowed me these opportunities in my life? ... Dr Tony Tan was Education Minister, Defence Minister and Health Minister while I was growing up. And the policies he instituted and initiated has played a significant role in allowing me to pursue my dreams, and yours too, by laying a strong foundation for us to attain good jobs, not just in Singapore but overseas as well.", shared, Ms Trina Liang-Lin.
Former local actress, Ms Sharon Aw said, "I learnt that while it is our right to exercise freedom of speech, words can actually really hurt one another. And then the community we end up with will be one that has no faith, no trust, and even no hope! ... I hope for Singapore a President who has clarity of vision, who does not only say what is clever, what is acceptable, what you want to hear, but I hope he has the maturity and quiet confidence to make the right decision for us, however unpopular these decision may be. I hope for Singapore a President who truly cares for us, listens to us, and will make a lasting difference for our families!"
In his Chinese speech, Mr Chua Thian Poh, said, “"Our vote is not a protest vote, not to change the government, not to support a stranger who appeared from nowhere, someone we are not familiar with, someone not trustworthy enough... So vote for Singapore, for the future of families, for the future of your children!"
“President is not a super MP!”
And finally the man of the hour took the stage to much choreographed cheering coming from one segment of the crowd (i.e. – supporters from Sembawang GRC). In his half-hour long speech, Dr Tan outlined the qualities a President should have and what he will do if elected. He also touched on political representation of women, saying, "Someone had mentioned that they were very pleased that I have not 1, not 2, but 3 women speaking today [to support me] at this rally! Everybody knows that in this Presidential race, we have four Tans, but fewer people have realised that the four Tans are all men. I am confident that this will not be the case forever. Things will change. All of us, our sons and daughters, must know - and I'm confident - that it won't be too long before we have our first female President!"
Dr Tan then spoke of financial crises around the world today and said that if and when the next financial crisis hits Singapore, he will be able to help Singapore through those difficult times with this background and expertise. “"Over the last couple of months, I have talked to many Singaporeans from all walks of life, and the same question comes up: If there is a crisis, is my job safe? Will I be retrenched? And I feel that this is an area that, with my background and experience, I have to make a contribution... I have worked in the public and private sector. I've headed 5 Ministries... I was the chairman of OCBC, and also the chairman of SPH... This background enables me to share views and insights to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, so that they will make better economic decisions... I am doing this, because I want to help us get through the next crisis, and emerge in good shape, as we have done in the past."
Dr Tan also promised that if elected Head of State, he will actively promote entrepreneurship in Singapore as he has been doing so for the past 20 years.” As President, I will encourage Singaporeans to strike out in new areas, and try to give them, working with the government, the opportunities try out new ideas and new ventures, So that even if they fail, they can try again and they will eventually succeed! This is the spirit of Silicon Valley - which I am confident we can bring to Singapore! This is good for entrepreneurs and also good for our society!”, he vowed.
Dr Tan then made a covert pass at fellow presidential candidate, Mr Tan Jee Say, with whom he exchanged a few heated words at TOC’s Face to Face 2 Forum, "The President is not a super-MP, as some candidates appear to believe. Our President represents our country at home and abroad. Our President wields important powers to protect our reserves - your and Singapore's rainy-day savings. So the questions which you have to ask yourself is: Who has the experience to represent Singapore to world leaders abroad? Who has the knowledge to make important decisions regarding the future of our country? Who has the temperament, character, courage to remain calm in the face of challenges and turbulent times? And who can work with the government, all political parties and civil society, to guide Singapore through the challenges, and give our people a better standard of living, and more security?"
Mr Tan Jee Say stood as a candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in the 2011 General Election. His team failed to win the seat in Parliament.
“Our best days are ahead of us!”
The veteran politician finished his speech saying that he believes Singapore’s president must be above politics. He said that the president should be able to represent the people of Singapore and safeguard Singapore’s reserves. “Friends and fellow Singaporeans,”, he addressed the crowd, “the decisions we make today will affect our children, and our children's children. Despite the challenges and difficulties which lie ahead, I remain convinced that our best days are ahead of us! I believe that with the right leadership, we do not need to fear the future, because working together; we can shape a better future for ourselves and our families! So I ask for your vote on Saturday, August 27th!"