Selected news & highlights from articles on Presidential candidates -- and the things they said

It's more a compilation, really. At this stage, I am truly overwhelmed of how the Presidential candidates promise stuff. Perhaps the better option is to stop reading all these articles & visit the rally myself. Yeah. I'll do that!

If elected President, Mr Tan Kin Lian will use the presidential veto on reserves to influence the Government's economic and social policies, the former NTUC Income CEO said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a walkabout at Whampoa Food Centre, Mr Tan said that, if the Government proposes to spend past reserves, he would ask for certain measures - which benefit larger groups of Singaporeans - to be put in place before approving the proposal.

Adding that he saw the veto as a "last resort", Mr Tan said: "I don't want to cause difficulty for the people of Singapore by exercising the veto too early. And I hope that would not be necessary."

Mr Tan, who also attended the Singapore Karting Championship and visited Geylang Serai Food Centre yesterday, also weighed in on Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament Chen Show Mao having his invitation to a Hungry Ghost Festival dinner withdrawn. Telling reporters that he wanted to talk about the "problem", he added: "I want to talk about the independence."

Mr Chen had written on his Facebook page that the organisers had been told by the Paya Lebar Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) that as a condition for receiving approval, they may no longer invite the Aljunied Opposition MPs.

A Paya Lebar CCC spokesman was quoted in The New Paper as saying that the CCC does not approve the use of common spaces.

Mr Tan reiterated that the People's Association "should be independent of political parties". He also recounted his own experience of being barred from distributing flyers in shopping malls. He said: "I can meet people, I can shake hands but why can't I distribute flyers? This is a legitimate activity for an election."

From Today, "I will use veto as last resort: Tan Kin Lian". (22/08/11)

TALK-SHOW host Oprah Winfrey said Mr Barack Obama was "the one" in 2007.

A University of Maryland study found that Winfrey's endorsement was responsible for about a million additional votes for now US President Obama.

In the presidential race here, Singapore's golden girl, Joscelin Yeo, and various labour unions and clan associations have also thrown their weight behind Dr Tony Tan.

But what is the value of such endorsements for the presidential candidates?

Political observer and former Nominated Member of Parliament Zulkifli Baharudin said organisations endorse candidates whose values align with their own .

Although this is a signal to its members, it doesn't mean a block vote, said Mr Zulkifli.

But there's another reason for endorsements.

When a candidate makes a claim to be pro-worker, for example, a union endorsement gives credibility to that claim.

Associate Professor Hussin Mutalib of the National University of Singapore (NUS) said such endorsements had benefited candidates.

"Voters, willingly or not, tended to follow the lead of their union or clan leaders, and many were hesitant not to go along with the Government or official stand on a particular candidate," he said.

Changing political climate

"Now, however, the political climate has changed, manifest in the results of the recent May GE." Prof Hussin added that instead of taking the cue from the Government or association leaders, Singaporeans now decide through discussions with peers, family, friends, and even social media sentiments.

In this presidential race, nothing is for certain. It's not clear if endorsements from unions and associations - mostly extended to Dr Tony Tan - would actually translate into pro-Dr Tan votes.

Said Prof Hussin: "Unions and associations can no longer expect a ringing endorsement from their members.

"Not only are they divided on who to support - hence the NTUC issued the unprecedented guideline that individual unions can decide for themselves - these members may privately have their own views and exercise such views when they cast their votes at the ballot box."

Furthermore, endorsements can be a double-edged sword.

Prof Hussin explained: "The public endorsements of a candidate, especially by unions known for their connections with the Government, may work both ways - either more votes or a kiss of death." NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser agreed.

He said: "Hopefully for the candidate the loss is far smaller than the gain from the endorsements." After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commented that Dr Tony Tan is "eminently qualified and is a good candidate", the latter said on Wednesday that he was grateful for the endorsement and to others who had endorsed him but made it clear he was running as an independent candidate.

It's not just the unions handing out endorsements.

Mr Chua Thian Poh, president of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations - one of several organisations that have endorsed Dr Tony Tan - felt that Dr Tony Tan was the most qualified because of his financial background and his many years of public service experience which would allow him to discharge the duties of the Elected President well.

He said that although the decision was taken through a meeting of council members, it had the backing of a lot of its members.

Yesterday, Mr Tan Jee Say was at the Hainan Tan Clan Association on Seah Street for a good luck tea session with a close to 800-strong group.

The association's president MrTan Boon Hai said its constitution does not allow the association to publicly endorse any candidate but each member can make his own decision.

Asked if he was disappointed, Mr Tan Jee Say said: "The chairman made it very clear in his speech that because of this constitutional provision, they cannot publicly endorse me but they leave it to the members to do so and they will encourage the members to do so."

Mr Francis Phua, president of the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan - an umbrella group with over 5,000 members - told The New Paper his association, too, will not endorse any candidate as its constitution does not allow it to participate in political activities.

The Hainan Tan Clan Association is part of the Hainan Hwee Kuan.


While Mr Tan Jee Say did not get the endorsement, he has received the support of Hainanese like Mr Richard Wan, an Internet entrepreneur.

He said he has been passing on messages to friends about a Hainanese chicken rice lunch this Sunday to raise support for Mr Tan Jee Say.

But Mr Tan Jee Say does have the endorsement of sociopolitical website Temasek Review Emeritus. When contacted, Dr Joseph Ong said he was no longer with the website and could not comment on the endorsement.

Do endorsements matter to the candidates themselves?

Mr Tan Kin Lian said he has not been seeking endorsements because he doesn't "want to put people in a difficult position".

He added: "Some organisations and unions will support certain kinds of candidates and others will support other kinds. (But in Singapore) nearly all the organisations feel quite comfortable endorsing the one favoured by the establishment, and then all the others, they stay away.

"There are union leaders and business leaders who know me very well, but because I happen to be independent, they do not want to endorse me. So it's quite sad."

From Asiaone, "Endorsements of candidates could be double-edged sword". (22/08/11)

Dr Tan Cheng Bock suggested that fellow candidate Mr Tan Kin Lian should attend annual general meetings to see how tough it is to face shareholders, reported The Straits Times.

He was rebutting comments made by Mr Tan last Friday that Dr Tan 'does not have good financial experience', as he is a non-executive chairman of Chuan Hup Holdings and 'not involved in the management of the company'.

"If you are in a public-listed company, you have to present at the AGM what the company has been doing, all the financial matters pertaining to the group," said Dr Tan.

He also pointed out that heads of a private company or co-operative do not have to answer to shareholders.

Mr Tan is the former chief executive officer of NTUC Income, while Dr Tan once held the post of non-executive chairman at Chuan Hup Holdings since 1991.

"When you face the shareholders, then you can feel the heat is on you.

"For 20 years I got to answer to my shareholders. It's not easy. He should attend some of the AGMs and see how difficult it can be," said Dr Tan.

He explained at a press conference after a walkabout at Orchard Cineleisure that Chuan Hup had grown from a shipping company to an investment holding company over the years.

Dr Tan said that his work there has positioned him for the president's post, which includes managing the country's reserves.

He also recalled how he had been part of the team tasked to purchase the first MRT trains, worth $5.4 billion, while he was a Mass Rapid Transit Corporation board member from 1983 to 1985, and a director of SMRT from 1987 to 1995.

From Asiaone, "Tan Cheng Bock: Try answering to shareholders". (21/08/11)

Presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan will hold a lunchtime rally on Wednesday, August 24 at Boat Quay, next to UOB Plaza.

The Police Elections Liaison Office (PELO) has issued a permit for the outdoor election meeting between 12.00pm and 3.00pm.

Earlier on Tuesday, the police issued a list of nine rally sites for the Presidential Election - eight sports stadiums, and a site at Boat Quay next to UOB Plaza meant only for lunchtime rallies.

Rally meetings can be held from August 18 to 25 between 7am and 10pm.

Each candidate will be allowed to hold only one outdoor election meeting at the designated locations, and this is inclusive of the option to hold a lunchtime rally.

Candidates will have to apply for permits from the police.

Permits issued for the outdoor rallies, along with their corresponding date and time, will be available on the Singapore Police Force website at

The police advise that rally-goers take public transport as traffic congestion can be expected at the roads leading to the rally sites during the campaigning period.

Election meeting organisers are reminded to strictly comply with the conditions and restrictions on election meetings stated under the Public Order (Election Meetings) Regulations.

From Channel NewsAsia, "PE: Dr Tony Tan to hold lunchtime rally on August 24". (20/08/11)

Presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock has said that members of any Opposition parties who come out to support him for this election must do so in their personal capacity, as the presidential election should be above any political affiliations.

He was responding to the news that members of the Singapore People's Party and the National Solidarity Party are supporting him in his campaign. Dr Tan emphasised that opposition members like Benjamin Pwee and Jimmy Lee have clarified that they are supporting him in their personal capacity.

Speaking at a walkabout in Jurong East this morning, he said that various people - including some of his former colleagues from the People Action Party - have given him their support.

"They see me as a neutral person, and see that I'm not a proxy for any political party," he said.

He also responded to a debate between candidates Tan Jee Say and Tony Tan at a forum organised by The Online Citizen on Thursday night, in which former Singapore Democratic Party member Tan Jee Say suggested that the Internal Security Act "has been used on political opponents".

Dr Tan Cheng Bock disagreed with the charge, emphasising the point that the Presidential Election should not be used as a platform to discuss "day-to-day politics".

He added: "It has to be very clear or Singaporeans will be very confused. This cannot be another General Election."

Dr Tan visited neighbourhood centres and markets at Redhill, Jurong East and Tiong Bahru this morning on his walkabouts.

From Today, "An election about individuals, not parties: Tan Cheng Bock". (20/08/11)

Singapore presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock said it is not within the duties of the president to come up with proposals like pension schemes which have been suggested by other candidates.

He said candidates should not promise things that cannot be delivered under the constitutional powers of the president or get involved in day-to-day politics.

"I guess there'll be some Singaporeans who will still be thinking this is a General Election, and they'll be taken up by all these types of issues. I really feel sorry for the person when he gets elected. I don't know how he is going to carry all this out," said Dr Tan.

He also defended his proposal to separate the Prime Minister's and Elected President's offices.

Dr Tan said while the office of the president has evolved from a ceremonial to a custodial role, it is critical for public confidence that the two are independent, as it is about institutionalising Singapore's political structure.

Winning more fans among the young in the heart of Orchard Road on Saturday is one of Dr Tan's campaign strategies to maximise his reach.

"Through the young they can ask their parents to vote for me. And through the young they have access to all my blogs, my Facebook and currently my apps. In fact some of them were fairly excited when they saw my calling card with even an app there," said Dr Tan.

From Channel NewsAsia, "PE: Candidates should not promise what they cannot deliver: Tan Cheng Bock". (20/08/11)

Presidential candidate and former Deputy Prime Minister, Tony Tan said he fears some candidates contesting the Presidential election are writing cheques that even the President cannot cash.

He made this point on his website created for the Presidential polls, in response to several points made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Sunday's National Day Rally.

Dr Tan said one point he found particularly interesting in Mr Lee's address was whether Singapore will remain pragmatic in its policy-making or if it will turn populist. He said as Singapore's political system continues to evolve, this is a question that will be debated further.

Dr Tan also expressed concerns that some politicians may feel compelled to appeal to popular demand for the sake of electoral gain.

This temptation, said Dr Tan, is affecting the Presidential Election with some candidates appealing to the public in ways that could go beyond the parameters of Singapore's Constitution.

He said: "On the other hand, we must remember that pragmatism and the needs of the population are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they must reinforce each other. Even pragmatism requires some measure of its success. That success must be defined as the dreams of Singaporeans - and their ability to achieve them."

Dr Tan also added that it was no surprise that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had sought to emphasise the government's policies that benefit Singaporeans in areas such as education, housing, and social safety nets.

Describing Mr Lee's speech as a solid one at a difficult time, Dr Tan felt that while the Prime Minister outlined things that the government can do, he also challenged Singaporeans to make Singapore an exceptional country.

He said Mr Lee also looked beyond the domestic concerns and spent some time on the global economic climate.

And he is pleased that Mr Lee discussed what this meant for Singaporeans in their daily lives, as well as paying particular attention to the social safety nets needed for those who cannot keep up or who have fallen on hard times.

From Channel NewsAsia, "PE: Tony Tan fears some candidates writing cheques President cannot cash". (15/08/11)


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