The following article was first published on leongszehian.com
~By Alex Lew~
~Photography by Shawn Danker~
I refer to Mr. Belmont Lay’s article describing the failures of the recent Presidential Election Candidate Mr. Tan Kin Lian’s campaign. The writer has given some strong opinions about Mr. Tan’s campaign. As such. I thought it was relevant for me to to share my personal opinion of Mr. Tan Kin Lian and his campaign in the recent elections.
It was in the midst of 2009 when Singaporeans experienced worst of the subprime crisis. At that time, Lehman Brothers had just collapsed. Products with counter-party risk related to the investment bank were on the verge of default. It was noteworthy that many Singaporeans were exposed to such products. There were consensus that Singaporeans were sold this products without clear disclosure of the products’ risk. Some Singaporeans were not able to grapple with the risk of default.
As the crisis worsened, Singaporeans were lost in terms of the future course of action. Many questions were asked but no one could answer them. What were the avenues to recover their investments? Who could the investors speak to? Why were the Lehman Brothers counterparty arrangements not disclosed to investors? How was it that senior citizens who could not understand any financial terms were sold such complex products?
During this time, no one within the establishment provided the necessary leadership. One man stood up to lead the affected Singaporeans. Mr. Tan Kin Lian volunteered to front the issues. I remembered in one afternoon, Mr. Leong Sze Hian and I joined the crowd in Hong Lim Park. Mr. Tan Kin Lian stood up under the blazing sun and delivered his speech. He made his speech slowly but steadily, giving enough time for Mr. Goh Meng Seng to translate the speech in Mandarin.
Thousands of Singaporeans looked towards Mr. Tan for directions. There was chaos all over. This man had brought faith and gave hope the affected investors in Singapore. Mr. Tan Kin Lian remained consistent in his belief that he could help his fellow countryman.
For the next few months, this man garnered enough administrative and legal help in an attempt to bring the many potential mis-selling cases to light. It was during this time that talks of Mr. Tan Kin Lian as the next President of Singapore emerged. Several volunteers requested Mr. Tan Kin Lian to step up and run for the President’s office.
All these time, no other Singaporeans indicated their willingness to stand up for Singaporeans. After Mr. Tan’s declaration that he would run for the President’s office, many worthy Candidates stepped out of their comfort zone to submit their applications to run for the role of President.
It is a fact that only 4.9% of the electorate voted for Mr. Tan Kin Lian. While many Singaporeans rush in to comment on his campaign’s failure and how many mistakes he had committed. I represent the group of Singaporeans that would like to thank Mr. Tan Kin Lian for his service to Singaporeans. I applaud his bravery for standing up for us during the crisis and for giving the courage to other candidates to run for the role of President.
The writer is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Wharton Fellow