Tan Cheng Bock endorses Tan Kin Lian’s presidential bid
FORMER presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 83, has thrown his support behind one-time rival Tan Kin Lian’s bid for the Istana.
At a press conference on Sunday (Aug 27) morning, he said he is endorsing Tan Kin Lian’s campaign in his personal capacity, as they are “comrades who share a common vision (of) an independent president”.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who is chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), said voters should not “get distracted by (the) many, many issues”, and should focus on the purpose of the election.
This is to find an independent person for the Istana who will take care of the reserves and ensure that the country is run by people of quality, he added.
“Somebody who’s with the establishment, I always suspect that this collusion, together with the establishment people, maybe makes them very uncomfortable if they choose to take decisions that is contrary to what the establishment people want,” said Dr Tan Cheng Bock, without elaborating.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock is the second former presidential candidate to stand with Tan Kin Lian, 75, who has also been endorsed by Tan Jee Say.
In the 2011 presidential election, Dr Tan Cheng Bock garnered 34.85 per cent of the votes. Tan Jee Say secured 25.04 per cent, while Tan Kin Lian received 4.91 per cent.
Dr Tony Tan won with 35.2 per cent of the votes and became Singapore’s seventh president.
At the press conference, Tan Kin Lian was asked if he plans to appoint both Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say to the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), should he become president.
The CPA advises the president on the exercise of his custodial powers. Of its eight members, three are appointed at the discretion of the president, three are appointed by the prime minister, and one each is appointed by the chief justice and chairman of the Public Service Commission.
Tan Kin Lian said he is quite sure that both his one-time competitors “share the same vision of an effective independent president”.
“They will be excellent candidates to the council,” he added. “I’ve not asked them this question yet, so we have to wait for Sep 1, for me to be elected.”
Prior to the press conference, Dr Tan Cheng Bock accompanied Tan Kin Lian at a walkabout at People’s Park Food Centre on Sunday.
At one point, Tan Kin Lian was flanked by both Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say, as they waved to the press and well-wishers.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock is the latest opposition politician to back Tan Kin Lian’s presidential campaign. Others include his seconder Lim Tean, founder of People’s Voice (PV), and Prabu Ramachandran of PV, his principal election agent.
On Sunday, former PSP member Brad Bowyer and Michelle Lee, formerly from the Red Dot United political party, were also spotted at the walkabout.
Tan Jee Say, who founded now-defunct political party Singaporeans First, is Tan Kin Lian’s proposer at this presidential election.
Leong Sze Hian and Dr Michael Fang, both PV candidates at the last general election, are, respectively, an assenter and a volunteer with Tan Kin Lian’s campaign team.
On whether being backed by prominent opposition figures could throw into question his independence as president, Tan Kin Lian said he intends to be an independent president who takes into account all inputs.
“I do treasure all inputs from other sectors of the people that convey the right information about what is happening on the ground,” he added.
He also pointed to his record of expressing an independent view on government policies as a private citizen.
“So the fact that I’m independent in my thinking is not an issue,” he said.
During the press conference, Dr Tan Cheng Bock was asked what he thought of Tan Kin Lian’s campaign so far, including the latter’s allegations that he was the target of a smear campaign by his opponents and the ruling party, and the controversy over his Facebook posts about “pretty girls”.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock said “gutter politics have been issues (that are) very defamatory to the individual who is standing”.
He noted that candidates in this election went through a stringent qualification process and were issued certificates of eligibility by the Presidential Elections Committee, to show they have the financial ability to be president, and that they have good character and standing.
“This is an approval stamp by the committee in charge, so what else can we say?” said Dr Tan Cheng Bock. “Then you better question the authorities who approve the candidates, how come there are still slip-ups and so on.”
Dr Tan Cheng Bock was a People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament who held the Ayer Rajah seat for 26 years from 1980 to 2006. He stepped down as MP in 2006, and his stronghold was absorbed into West Coast GRC in that year’s general election.
He announced his second presidential bid in 2017 but failed due to the government’s decision to reserve the election for Malay candidates. He also did not meet the criterion of helming a company with S$500 million in shareholder equity.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock then founded the PSP in 2019. At the 2020 General Election, he contested West Coast GRC as part of a five-member team with Jeffrey Khoo, Hazel Poa, Leong Mun Wai and Nadarajah Loganathan.
The PSP team secured 48.31 per cent of the votes in West Coast GRC against a PAP team comprising S Iswaran, who was then Minister for Communications and Information, Desmond Lee, who was Minister for Social and Family Development, Foo Mee Har, Ang Wei Neng and Rachel Ong.
Asked whether he is worried that endorsing Tan Kin Lian would have an impact on the PSP’s performance at the next general election, Dr Tan Cheng Bock said there is always a risk in every decision.
But he believes that Singaporean voters will view how the PSP and its two Non-Constituency MPs have performed, and vote accordingly at the next general election, which must be held by 2025.
Tan Cheng Bock endorses Tan Kin Lian’s presidential bid (no date) Businesstimes.com.sg. Available at: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/singapore/tan-cheng-bock-endorses-tan-kin-lians-presidential-bid (Accessed: 28 August 2023).