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Tan Jee Say endorses Tan Kin Lian for President: A courageous, genuine, and humble choice for Singapore

Speech by Tan Jee Say 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.

I support Mr Tan Kin Lian as candidate for President. He will make a good president, a
courageous, genuine, and humble one.

Courageous, Genuine and Humble

For someone who lost his deposit in the 2011 presidential election 12 years ago, it definitely takes a lot of courage to place himself at the mercy of the voters to contest again. No matter what, I think we can all admit – that courage is commendable. Kin Lian has also asked me to be his proposer in the event that he goes ahead with his nomination.

As you all know, I was one of his opponents in the 2011 Presidential Election – for him to ask me to be his proposer, I think that in itself speaks volumes about his humility. I believe that if elected, Kin Lian will bring this humble and courageous attitude to listen to all sides and genuinely serve the people of Singapore.

Contest Assured

Secondly, Kin Lian clearly meets all the qualifying criteria to be a candidate. As CEO of NTUC Income from 1977 to 2007, he was the most senior executive within the organisation that had at least $500 million shareholder equity during the last three years and was profitable during the period of 30 years when he was in charge. He does not need any waivers for him to qualify.

At the moment, there is some doubt on whether there will even be an election.

So with his entry, there will be no walkover and there will be a contest, something I believe Singaporeans want to see.

On a lighter note as well, an additional public holiday is always nice. Independent

Thirdly, Kin Lian is clearly independent of the government. He left party- and government-linked organizations more than 15 years ago. He also manages his own money, not any government funds.

This independence of the government is the most important quality in a President if he is to truthfully perform his twin roles of upholding the integrity of the public service and safeguarding the reserves.


Recent public scandals have eroded the people’s trust in the government. We need to bring
back this lost trust. Continuous governance by the same political party for as long as most of us can remember, 64 years, has unfortunately resulted in the distinction between the
political and the civil service leadership being blurred.

As a result, both parties have become less careful in dealing with and respecting each other
as independent entities. The purpose of the civil service is to serve the people, regardless of political leadership.

That means there should be clear guidelines on how elected officials should approach civil servants for information, on whom to ask and on how civil servants should respond to requests for information for personal use and not for public interest. An independent President would be the most appropriate party to initiate and moderate such an exercise in setting clear guidelines. Only then can we bring back trust in the government, to best serve the people of Singapore.


With regard to the President’s role of safeguarding reserves, we must guard against
overstating the need for huge reserves to defend the Singapore dollar.

Putting aside too much of our savings for this purpose, may restrain our economic growth and hold up the government’s efforts to help the people of Singapore in managing the rising cost of living, to ensure the provision of affordable housing and to create diverse and rewarding job opportunities for our people – many of whom now feel helpless and without hope in a challenging world economy. An independent President can take a fresh look at the requirements.

Mr Ng Kok Song told us that when Dr Goh Keng Swee asked him years ago at MAS to defend the Singapore dollar against speculative attacks, he used very little of the reserves to do so.

Mr Tan Kin Lian has spoken about our reserves at a Hong Lim Park rally some time ago and I am sure that if elected President, he will do a fresh and thorough review with MAS officials and guide them on the appropriate level of reserves to put aside to defend the Singapore dollar and for other emergency uses.

If we do not need too much to do so, the President will give us hope that he will not stand in the way of the government if it decides to use more of the reserves to help the people. This would be a proper and legitimate use of our reserves and should not be misconstrued as a raid on our reserves.

People’s President

In essence – for a humble, genuine and courageous People’s President, for proper democracy, and for effective independence, I support Mr. Tan Kin Lian’s 2023 Presidential Election bid. I commend Singaporeans to support him. If elected, President Tan Kin Lian will bring back trust and give us hope.

Also read the speeches of
Mr Tan Kin Lian: Rekindling unity and charting a vigorous future for Singapore
Mr Lim Tean: A visionary leader for Singapore’s Presidency

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