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Tan Kin Lian’s pledge: Rekindling unity and charting a vigorous future for Singapore

Speech by Tan Kin Lian at his press conference to launch his presidential campaign on Friday (11 Aug) in a press conference at Copthorne King’s Hotel.

I am participating in the upcoming election to give the people of Singapore a chance to vote for a President that is independent of the ruling government.

The President has to perform two key duties, as set out in the constitution. They are to safeguard our past reserves and to protect the integrity of our public service.

If elected, I intend to perform these two key duties diligently, honestly, and to the best of my abilities.

I will now state how I intend to carry out these two key duties, if I were elected as President.

I deal with the first duty. Our past reserves comprise of a large sum that probably runs into several hundreds of billion dollars, maybe more. It is vitally important that the reserves are invested soundly to produce a good rate of return over the long term, covering five years or longer, and is not be exposed to high risk.

I will highlight this overall investment strategy to the professional investment managers so that they can carry out their work in the best possible way to achieve the desired results.

Many people have expressed concern about the large investment losses, amounting to several tens of billion dollars, incurred by our sovereign funds during the past year.

We should accept that the market values of the investments will fluctuate from year to year, according to the underlying conditions of the global economy. Also, we should not judge the performance of the past year with the benefit of hindsight and with inadequate knowledge of the actual conditions that influenced the investment decisions.

However, there are valuable lessons that can be learned from our recent experience. I intend to ensure that these lessons are properly identified and learned, so that we can make better policy and operating decisions in the future.

The actual monitoring will be the duty of the board of directors, but they will receive my advice and guidance on the approach to be taken.

Apart from ensuring that the past reserves are invested prudently, I intend to work with the government to ensure that the past reserves are used wisely for the benefit of our current and future generations.

I now deal with the second duty. It is also vitally important that we have the right people at the top levels of our public service.

While we should continue to value the contribution of our scholars who have excellent thinking skills, we should also value the knowledge and experience of people who have spent many years on the job and know the ground well.

We need different types of people, those with talents and those with practical experience, to form a good team. I wish to see that the people who have gained knowledge and practical experience from many years of dedicated service are given the opportunity to advance to positions of leadership.

I will be influenced by these factors in approving the recommendations of the people to be appointed into the top levels of our public service.

I intend to play an active role in dealing with these two key duties of the president. I believe that the active involvement of the president and a new direction are necessary to give a new vigor to our governance.

With the knowledge and experience from 30 years as the chief executive officer of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative, I am confident that I will be able to perform these two key duties well. I intend to do so for the benefit of the people of Singapore.

Beyond these constitutional duties, I have a vision – to use the president’s office to influence policies that will make a better life for the people of Singapore.

I will focus on three fundamental areas, crucial to the well-being of our citizens: bringing down the cost of living, ensuring affordable housing for all, and securing jobs that provide a sense of stability and a path to progress.

Now, I must clarify that I don’t intend to be an adversary to the elected government. On the contrary, I hope to work in collaboration with the government to achieve the goals stated above.

My vision is to build a nation where the people are united and live in harmony. I believe that the people will be united when they feel financially secure and are able to look beyond their immediate concerns and think about the greater good of our society.

This was the spirit of unity and pride that Singaporeans felt 50 years ago. We need to rekindle that spirit.

I come from a humble background. Throughout my entire life, which spans 75 years as of now, I have been in close touch with the ordinary people. I know of their hardship and aspirations.

If I am elected into the high office of the President, I intend to remain in close
touch with the ordinary people. I believe that I can perform my duty best, if am in touch with the pulse and heartbeat of the people.

I ask for the support of the people to give me a strong mandate so that I can provide an independent perspective and act in collaboration with the ruling government, to deal with the challenges of the future.

Also read the speeches of
Mr Tan Jee Say: A courageous, genuine, and humble choice for Singapore
Mr Lim Tean: A visionary leader for Singapore’s Presidency

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