Speech by Lim Tean at the press conference of Tan Kin Lian who launched his presidential campaign on Friday (11 Aug) in a press conference at Copthorne King’s Hotel. Mr Lim is Mr Tan’s seconder.
I am very pleased and honoured to be the seconder for the candidacy of Tan Kin Lian to be the President of Singapore.
I first heard of Mr Tan’s name in the mid-90s. A loved one who was the Board Secretary of POSB, before it merged with DBS, told me about an unusual board member who had very innovative and progressive ideas on how to improve the services of POSB for its customers.
That board member was Tan Kin Lian. Every Singaporean has at some time in their lives a POSB account.
Since knowing Mr Tan, I have myself experienced the creativity and innovative ideas which emanate from him. Whether he was speaking at Hong Lim Park on a matter of public interest or in private or public discussions, his overriding objective was always to improve the lives of his fellow Singaporeans.
I was one of those who strongly urged Mr Tan to put himself forward to contest the Presidential Election this year.
I know that many Singaporeans are disillusioned by the too many Presidential Election walkovers in the past. It is a misnomer to call a President an elected President when there is no contest.
In the 30 year history of the Elected Presidency, there have only been 2 elections for President-one in 1993 when Ong Teng Cheong was elected and the other in 2011 which elected Tony Tan. Many Singaporeans also crave for a truly Independent President, one with no links to the PAP or government linked entities. Every President since the inception of the Elected Presidency, has been linked to the government in one way or another.
These continuous links between the government and the Presidents as well as the many walkovers have tarnished the institution of the elected Presidency in the eyes of many Singaporeans.
Together with the spate of scandals which have plagued the government recently, it is no wonder that the cry from ordinary Singaporeans for a real Presidential contest this year and for an Independent President is overwhelming.
The candidacy of a truly independent candidate such as Mr Tan, with absolutely no links to the government or government linked entities, and who meets the qualification criteria for President, will help Singaporeans regain the trust in their public institutions.
In a larger sense, a President must give the Nation and her people a certain idea of who we are. It is not only about the ability of the person.
It is also whether that person embodies our values and is representative of us as a people. And in this, I am absolutely confident that Tan Kin Lian’s empathy and concern for the wellbeing of his fellow countrymen will make him the People’s President.
Mr Tan has spoken of his vision to leverage the office of the President to improve the lives of Singaporeans. His vision comes as a ray of hope to the many thousands of Singaporeans who are struggling under the yoke of the astronomical cost of living, sky-high property prices and job insecurity.
Many young Singaporeans are angry that they are unable to afford a home so as to start a family. This is a far cry from the future which their parents enjoyed. Our TFR is at a disastrous 1.05, a historical low. The continuous influx of immigrants threatens our social fabric and has rightly resulted in much unease amongst Singaporeans.
Singaporean anger over the rising prices of goods and everyday necessities and also the hike in GST is increasing by the day. So are their concerns that too many good jobs are going to foreigners instead of locals.
Singaporean anger is compounded by unjust policies such as the one which mandates that new citizens above 30 years of age do not have National Service obligations when local Singaporeans have reservist obligations until they are 40 years old.
All that the critics can offer is that Mr Tan does not understand the limited powers of the Presidency and that the President has no executive powers.
But these critics fail to understand the broader constitutional duty of the President to look after the welfare of Singaporeans. His duty to Singaporeans is not confined to only guarding the reserves or ensuring the integrity of public service appointments, important though they are.
The President may not have executive powers, but he is able to leverage on the mandate he has received from the people, and the prestige of his office to advise the government of his views on government policies and how they are affecting the well-being of Singaporeans.
Singapore inherited the Westminster model of Government from Britain. In Britain, the Monarch shares the same constitutional position as our President. The Queen or the King as the constitutional monarch has no executive powers but that has never stopped them from giving advice to the Prime Minister in their weekly meetings on how they viewed the effects of government policies.
I think Singaporeans would rather have a person such as Mr Tan Kin Lian as President, someone who would not hesitate to give his advice to the government on matters concerning their welfare, than a doormat who would simply do the bidding of the government.
In conclusion, I endorse Mr Tan Kin Lian wholeheartedly for President of Singapore