Friday, August 12, 2011

4 Tans in Presidential Elections.

There are 4 of them and only one who is endorsed by the establishment. The outcome is not so uncertain as the highly qualified candidates in the other camp will share the  rest of the votes. What is encouraging is the number of people stepping forward to contest and expressing their views on what the elected president should do. For the first time in many years Singaporeans will get to vote for their president.

The most important issue linked to the presidency has been the management and transparency of our reserves. Ironically, the PAP govt that created the elected presidency to "protect" and "safeguard" our reserves came out explain that the presidents' role is limited by the constitution and so on. When the EP post was created in 1991, it was generally explained the "2-key" system would prevent a profligate "freak" govt from getting into power and spending away our reserves pandering to the demands of a lazy electorate demanding free education, housing, medical everything. I will expalin a little later how and why we can become less fearful of this even without an EP. The biggest fear on the minds of Singaporeans with regard to the reserves is not that a govt get into power and give us freebies (some of the less motivated among you might root for this) for 1 or 2 decades and make us lazy but the loss of our reserved due lack of transparency, mismanagement and losses in high risk investments.

How a reserve that belongs to the people should be spent is an ideological issue - there is no logic in saving for the sake of saving and never touching have to be saving for something  emergencies, education, your children's future, donation to charity. Because the purpose of our reserves has never been articulated, it becomes hard to argue how it should be build up and managed. Many countries have laid out what the clearly what the purpose of their reserves are. For example in Finland, the reserves is partially used for a pension scheme for old so they have to get to a size to make sure they can fund such a scheme for a sustainable period. The idea of using reserves for making the lives of old folks who contributed to it better is something that the PAP will never do and consider it profligate spending. It is ideologically unattractive and unacceptable for the PAP. So what does PAP see is acceptable use of the reserves? Taking some of it during the Great Recession of 2009 to give out as wage subsidies to still profitable companies is okay.and they did it...but giving it to Singaporeans who suddenly fall on hard times is a no go.

See the whole idea of the EP (from the PAP govt) was to actually protect our reserves from a non-PAP govt that would use our reserves for reasons the PAP does not see as ideologically correct. So when a PAP endorsed candidate, formerly from the PAP govt, becomes president, there is ideological similarity - hence, few checks and no pressure  on the govt. The public understands this and will vote for an alternative to the PAP endorsed candidate. We saw this in the first PE during which a relatively unknown candidate with rather "unenthusiastic" campaigning garnered nearly half the votes against the better known Ong Teng Cheong.

Today, our concerns about our reserves goes beyond how it is spent by govt. There are concerns about transparency, investment losses and management performance. These concerns have heightened since the last financial crisis wiped off a large amount of our reserves and the public observing high profile risky moves to invest in failing western banks. Having a  president that sits between govt and reserves to prevent wasteful spending is does not address this concern. When govt spend, it is in the full view of the public - we know exactly how much and if we find it wasteful, we can simply vote the profligate govt out. The people themselves are the check and balance - if they have a good value system and are wary of populist govt trying to spend the reserves in an unsustainbale wasteful manner.If they are a people easily tricked and fooled by false promises and tempted by undeserved entitlements, they will vote for a govt that will splurge away the reserves and vote for a president that won't stand in the way of that govt. In that sense, the best guard against wasteful spending of the reserves is the people themselves - if they are educated and have a good value system, they will vote for a govt that will do the right thing.

What really concerns Singaporeans is what they cannot see and do not know about the reserves - it is not spending which has to be made known. We want the books opened and independentlyverified, we want the good performance measures and we want the best practices in place to mitigate the risk level.. If such transparency is not possible, we want to have someone respected and elected to office to do this. While the govt today has the power to deny a president access to the information, it is advantageous for the govt to work with the President if they want to win back the trust they lost.


Anonymous said...

The breakdown of my company department is made up of
4 Singaporean,
5 permanent residents and
10 foreigners (Employment pass holders).

Today, my boss told us that the company is going to be downsized because of expected bad business in the coming future.

As a result, 2 staffs from my departments are to be sacked. It is so unlucky that that the 2 sacked persons are Singaporean.

My boss, who is a permanent resident himself, has hinted very clearly that he has no choice but to sack the 2 most expensive Singaporean staffs and keep only the cheaper staffs.

The foreigners and PRs are very confident and happy that they are protected from losing their jobs because the boss is a PR and also they will keep their jobs as they are cheaper than the Singaporean staffs.

Now, as Singaporean, I am very worried that I will be the next one to be sacked when the next round of downsizing comes.

John Leo said...

The Singaporean elite dont share the fears and frustration of Anon 23:20 because they've accumulated enough to live comfortably, on the backs of people like Anon 23:20. Some in the elite justify this state of affairs with the argument that Anon 23:20 may not have the right gene pool.

The injustice here is the illusion of a level playing field. The elite and people like Anon 23:20 subject themselves to giving 2 years of their lives to NS. Who is actually benefitting from the current system? Relatively speaking, the elite and their children benefit more from this system than Anon 23:20 and his family. Contrary to what some are saying 2 YEAR NS IS NOT A SOCIAL LEVELLER. So it makes a lot of sense if the elite and their kids do a 2 year NS while folk like Anon 23:20 and their families doing a 1 year NS. At the end of the day it is Anon 23:20 and their families who are putting their lives at stake in NS for the larger gains of the elite. What has really gone wrong, now, is the fact that foreigners who dont do 2 year NS are getting better treatment than Sporeans like Anon 23:20 who have done their 2 year NS. Sporeans are putting their lives on the line for people who are NOT expected to offer a similar level of sacrifice.

I hope the next president of Spore will talk about these anomalies in our society. He cannot table new laws but he can speak to our collective conscience and speak up for people like Anon 23:20.

The new president must be value driven and take the side of people like Anon 23:20. Sporeans have nothing to lose by voting for candidates who know how to question the injustices of our system without undoing the fundamentals which hold us together.

My vote is for Jee Say or Kin Lian. I will make up my mind on the day before the elections.

Anonymous said...

Too bad. Not only will the 3 Tans (not Tony Tan)lose but one of them may even lose his deposit!

Because the 3 Tans (not Tony Tan) die die want 4 corner fight so of course all 3 will "die".

If I were the PAP (Tony Tan is my choice) I will be laughing. And this time don't even need 60% mandate. 40% is enough and very good and can win already! Hahaha.

Because my opponents not only not as strong as me but also not united. Not only for Presidential Election but also during General election.

When will they learn to fight to win?

Anonymous said...

The way I see it: TT did not want the job in the first place. He took it up out of obligation to PAP. TCB is a result of a split in PAP. TJS is clearly in to drive his GE agenda. TKL is the only one truely motivated by the spirit to serve the country and took the courage to contest in the Presidential Election.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Anon 04:11 put it nicely.
I fully agree with his accessment and I am for TKL for those reasons !

Anonymous said...

TJS is the "hot favourite" on the Internet. Many netizens want him to win.

But then look at his last GE result. 39% of the votes only. Some more only for MP. Definitely not that good what, considering that he is regarded as "star" candidate. Workers' party candidates all get over 40% in GE 2011!

So cannot win MP seat but can win Presidency? Only netizen voters think so or want it that way. Not the actual voters, which is what really matters.

Anonymous said...

There is a dilemma between voting Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian. My personal choice is Tan Kin Lian, but Tan Jee Say seems to be the more popular choice amongst voters online.

If Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian cannot decide who to withdraw, perhaps Lucky Tan and other bloggers can come up with a voting strategy for others to follow, in order not to split votes.

My take is to pick the more popular choice. Follow the majority. What is your take?

Anonymous said...

TKL is the only candidate who offer to donate at least 50% of his Presidential Salary, if elected.

This is the clincher! I will vote TKL.

Anonymous said...

"There is a dilemma between voting Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian. My personal choice is Tan Kin Lian, but Tan Jee Say seems to be the more popular choice amongst voters online."

TJS dares to put more on the table outright and online supports openly declared are from those younger more confident & daring facebook generation who prefers straight-forward no-nonsense response not that kind of neither-here-nor-there time wasting grey statements.

The flavor of the future will be moving towards & much influenced by the movement of such facebook generations. The magic of yesteryear dinosaurs are going to be snuffed out unless they intend to bare their their last breath of energy by trampling confusingly on anyone along their path.

Anonymous said...

Now that TT is scaring pple with economic uncertainty and rocking the boat, and with all the bias coverage against the rest, he will gain the support for the not so politically aware and brainwashed people, which is a freaking big chunk of Singapore.

Depending on how anti PAP one is, TCB, TKL and TJS will be splitting votes among them.

Anonymous said...

Why is everybody talking about candidates win/lose here?
The question to ask is " Who is the President that can bring about transparency, and be the most effective voices of the people? You need some one who is relatively strong with good economics and financial understanding. Followed by someone who is assertive to speak his mind (note : not trouble challenging for sake of it). Then the rest like how he carries himself on the international scene is secondary. These can be cultivated and with the right support ( gosh we are looking at butlers of services and council wisemen etc) a fast learner will pick it up. Someone who has the ability and weight to maketh the office so to speak.
There're tons of foreign/interior ministers and ambassadors doing a great work. The Presidency is just another nice feather on the cap, largely ceremonial and symbolic.

Once you start from there, the answer hopefully will be clear. So for me, I will vote for a President who will help PM Lee build his consensus-building skills. LEt's put it that way, he (they) sucks big time in this area. Their policies constantly do NOT had the buy-in of the people, and they still try and run rough-shod with us. The recent Transport fare hikes, electricity bill, kindergarten bills etc are clear examples.

The time of Conviction politics is over. The era of Consensus politics is here.

Anonymous said...

A larger number of candidates stepping forward to hand a mandate to Tony Tan is encouraging?

Will Lucky and his followers ever learn that losers have no say in politics?

Anonymous said...

If someone tells you that there is an office held by a single person who can unite all dissenting voices and he is it, you better check with IMH whether they have an escaped patient before you decide whether he is worth your time because the last I checked, someone who did that never lived long to boast.

Anonymous said...

"Will Lucky and his followers ever learn that losers have no say in politics?"

What makes you so sure that the winner or loser has already been decided.

About losers not having any say, it all depends on what type of winner or loser you are talking about and the era that one lives where history is being rewritten depending on one's perspective.

Some "winner" will have a lot of say that not many believe and some past loser will get the recognition after many many years. Didn't the financial crisis reveals to us the many wrong winners that much faith has been entrusted.

Anonymous said...

"TKL is the only one truely motivated by the spirit to serve the country and took the courage to contest in the Presidential Election."

Anon. 13/8/11 04:11

Agree. I will vote TKL.

Anonymous said...

TKL offers to donate at least 50% of his Presidential salary, if elected because he do not think that public office’s holders should receive millions dollars of salary. He wants to set an example for other leaders to follow.

Anonymous said...

Here's my 2 cents worth of playing the PE race right.
So that we voters can win/win.

Agree partially with anon 4:11 assessment.
Notwithstanding how all these candidates came to the race track, the smart (IMHO) way to do this is as follows :-

A vote for TT is out of question. LKY sent him to be the hatchman as an extra watch over his son's and the new and relatively inexperienced Ministers. Being a control freak himself, he needs old steady hand like TT to play the "mentor" role but in an official capacity like the President. But we know it means = no transparency = status quo.

A vote for TCB will be the "safe & better" concession most people (pro or antiPAP) can live with/accept. While he is vocal and passionate, and has his heart in the right place, but doubtful he will achieve anything more than TT. Plus his lack of finance will not help us understand the state of our reserves, and for him to ask the tough/hard questions. Ultimately, he's still a PAP guy and will toe the line to some extent. Besides if the rumor that this is a result of PAP elites vs PAP grassroots, I have even less interest to support the PAP grassroots to help them win their internal class-game.
Actually that puts me off a lot. So that's the reality for TCB.

A vote for TKL is being seen as a neutral play (relatively) but he strike me as someone who's the lightest weight amongst all candidates. I am not sure he can stand up to the strong muscles of the PAP govt/machinery when he gets in. He's good with making a lot of noise (or one would say top-of-mind share) but not sure he's that solid a candidate.

A vote for TJS is a strongly favored one amongst the anti PAP crowds. Although his association with SDP is barely 3-5mths old (as compared to the above 3 long history with the same party), the MSM still like to paint him as such - guilt by association. However he could be a strong and assertive president that SG really needs. His length of civil service and close proximity as ex-PPS is an advantage re the workings of the inner system, plus his strong economics and finance b/g.

Vote for TJS and we have a good chance that he can succeed on a constructive, collaborative relationship with the current govt. What's the worse case that can happen? He became destructive?, violates constitutions enough that PAP with 2/3 majority can retire him early anytime. Then we can always go back to TKL. There's nothing to lose.

At least that's how I have been assessing who to vote for, to get the best possible results for us, the citizens.

Anonymous said...

The key issue here is that yes we like to have a President that provide check and balance for the reserves but that must involve transparency. The problem is that so far, the Government and sometimes, the President's office are not forthcoming with how the Reserves are spent. So the next elected President has to be honest and transparent with how EP use the reserves and explains it to the public. Anotehr thing I like to hear from the President is compassion. As some other ppl has pointed out, SR Nathan did not give out pardons to any prisoners facing death sentences. Now the prisoners may need the death sentence but sometimes it is because of circumstances that are out of their control so I hope the next EP is compassionate.

Anonymous said...

I have been following TKL's blog for 3 years (since 2008).

I find that he is like Lucky Tan, they really cares for the welfare and well-being of ordinary people.

TKL has expressed his concerns and has made suggestions on the following issues :

1)the affordability of HDB flats

2)the need of unemployment insurance for the workers

3)the widening income gap between the elites and ordinary workers

4)the transportation woes of ordinary people

5)the high public medical fee

6)the need of minimum wage

7)the selling of complex credit-link notes(most of them are high risk with only moderate return) to ordinary people

8)the selling of high cost and low yield insurance products to ordinary people

I will vote for TKL.

Anonymous said...

I think Lucky Tan's analysis of the situation is spot on, especially the part about the government not stating clearly the purpose of our reserves. As it stands, one can only assume that saving for the reserves are only for the sake of saving. These savings have resulted from budget surpluses over the years, surpluses which could have been used to better the lives of the poor and needy in Singapore. The worrying part is that there seems to be no limit placed on how much reserves should be built up. What they need to tell us is what are these reserves for.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan's analysis is worth shit if TT win. And TT is almost certain to win barring a miracle. Even Lucky says so.

Anonymous said...

Many people are not aware that TKL is not an active PAP member for more than 25 years (since 1985) because he is unhappy with the direction of the party policy on the graduate mother scheme, the unfair burden of national service on male citizens and on the HDB policy.

He continued as an inactive cadre member of the PAP until his retirement from NTUC Income in 2007. He resigned from the party shortly afterwards.

He did not want to quit earlier as it was necessary for him to preserve good relations with the ministers and the NTUC leaders, for the sake of NTUC Income.

Over the years, he has written many letters to the media on issues affecting the people of Singapore, such as national service, public transport and housing.

I believe that we can count on him to be independent of PAP government.

I will vote for TKL.

Jin Ai Lui said...

Its left unchecked for far too long.

What about the non-profit foundation, initiated and funded by Temasek Holding, they call Temasek Foundation that goes around the region doing charitable projects.

I mean what is that about. Simply taking Tax Payer funded Sovereign fund and create a non profit charitable foundation with a contribution of S$25million annually !

Dunno how much Temasek Holdings has sunk in so far, but it doesn't sound right ?!

Anonymous said...

TKL has expressed that the Presidential salary is too high and will donate at least 50% of the salary to charity, if elected.

This will set a good example for other ministers to follow.

If we all agree that President’s salary and ministers’ pay are too high, then please vote for TKL.

Winking Doll said...

Those who don’t want Tony Tan to be the president please share the facts about Tony Tan’s “track record” with your friends, families, neighbours, colleagues, etc.

Just today, I provided details of his “track record” to change the minds of 2. They previously based their decision on MSM information about Tony Tan’s resume. E.g. He presents a dignified image of Singapore when interacting with foreign heads of states, with his GIC experience he can help grow the economy, blah, blah, blah. But they did not know the *FACTS* about his *actual performance* on-the-job.

Mind you, they are literate and internet-savvy folks. So don’t assume that the young internet-savvy folks would have heard the truth about Tony Tan’s “track record” or about the “Patrick Tan scandal”. Please for the sake of Singapore’s future, share! The more the merrier!

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