Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I find it difficult to support Tan Jee Say for President

He would seem to be the ideal candidate for President.... scholar, humble origins, family man, and very personable. Someone who can comfortably be at the wet market, engage academics in scholarly discussions and also hobnob with world leaders.

But I have reservations.

There is something in his past that I have not been able to understand. Here is a guy who worked his way up the admin service for 11 years and then served for 5 years as the PPS for the then DPM Goh Chok Tong. Now, I know some out there will deny this vehemently, but to my reckoning, nobody goes through this kind of career trajectory without first conforming and then succumbing to a certain degree of political and admin group think. But somewhere along this trajectory TJS appears to have experienced an epiphany of sorts to suddenly become a highly political animal of the opposition sort. But not only an opposition figure but a key figure of the most vehemently anti-PAP and anti-government opposition parties out there.

Now I may be way off course here, but common sense tells me that something happened in TJS's life. Something which we do not know about. He is not saying. And obviously neither is the government. This is important gap in our understanding of the man, because it will give us a better idea of his true drives in seeking out the presidency.

The other reservation is linked to the first. TJS has come across as a bit to combative, and rather too willing to confront the government on too many populist issues. I think this goes beyond just electioneering. I think these are pet opposition issues that an opposition party should confront the PAP government about. But these should not be issues taken up by the President. By all means debate these in Parliament but these should not form the contentious bickering backdrop for the relationship between the President and the government. I certainly do not want an opposition party to usurp the post of President. And although TJS has stepped down as a member of the SDP, it is clear from the rabid and almost exclusive support given him by Temasek Review Emeritus that he remains very much their man. To what extent he can maintain a position free of SDP influence if he does become President remains to be seen. But I am doubtful.

To this latter ends, I would like to suggest the the criteria for eligibility for President must be non-association with any political party for a period of at least 5 years. Otherwise the criteria of not belonging to a political party is meaningless.

So TJS, sorry, no support from me. I suppose this would only leave two options for me on Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Your logic is so flawed.

Human being is not static. However, many people can be rather fixed and moulded if they stay long enough in any given environment. The person you should be asking is why TT declined to be PM then for the good of the country, and yet now he wants to run President? Maybe some old man is prepared to come confess certain wrong doing given his time is up soon, and need a President that will pardon him in case the angry mob comes after him...

Anyway, good luck to your vote. Each his own.

Anonymous said...

I suppose based on the same logic of your arguments, you wouldn't have voted for Chen Show Mao either if you are a constituent of Aljunied in the last GE ?

You don't really need to write a long conspiracy theory to arrive at your mindset, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

"The person you should be asking is why TT declined to be PM then for the good of the country, and yet now he wants to run President?". Unquote.

No need to ask him lah, the Man has never display any conviction to any political ideal. Be it his own involvement in the State or his son's National Service.

He walked in and out and in again as he liked, he just wanted easy job. That's about it.


Anonymous said...

seems like TT's motivations are quite clear. Don't need to dig much deeper. That's why he's out of contention and rightfully should be disqualified.

Anonymous said... did CSM creep into the story?

Anonymous said...

Why is TJS not at the top post at the prime of his life?? I am sure he did not retire as he has 4 young kids still in schools. Sorry, i am not convinced that the country's reserve is best watched over by TJS. I know the opposition lobbyists will not agree - to each his own.

Anonymous said...

Trying to read into a person's mind and guess is unwise imagination.
We should just examine his words, his actions, the risks/rewards he faced, etc to make a judgment.
All four of them are well qualified candidates.
There is no need to be cynical.
Each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Depending to what extent we want the President to be "poor people focused" or policies focused or check & balances focused or business as usual focused they have their own merits and demerits.

Vote according to what is important to you and your fellowmen.

RR said...

Good grief... to base your decision on unfounded suspicions. That is why I say Singaporeans are too immature for democracy! Only fit to be ruled and herded like sheep...

auntielucia said...

I want to correct an erroneous point that keeps being repeated by the anti-Dr TT types.

He didn't decline the premiership. LKY said at a national rally that he rated Dr TT as first among a group of potential successors. However, TT's peers in this group chose GCT as the next PM.

Dear Giga, good post. Actually of all the four candidates, TJS has least to lose and given his age, a heck of a lot to gain. If doesn't succeed in this election, he cld always become an Opp candidate again in 5 yrs time and given the wide exposure he's had wld surely win a seat in parliament.

Halimah Han said...

Dear auntyelucia,

Kuan Yew, in a national day speech said that TT, although the no. 1 choice for the job of PM, was not interested in the job.

Anonymous said...

I will be voting Tan Cheng Bock instead of Tony Tan. Tan Cheng Bock spoke up in 1987 in support of the arrest of the Marxist conspirators. This is a man who understands putting the nation above the individual. He is a safe pair of hands who will not rock the boat and threaten the stability of Singapore. This is why he was the first non cabinet minister elected into the PAP Central Executive Committee. He has already said that he will work within the boundaries of the constituion. The role of the President is custodial and it is more important to have someone likeable like Tan Cheng Bock. Therefore I will be very comfortable with Tan Cheng Bock as President.

gigamole said...

"RR said...
Good grief... to base your decision on unfounded suspicions. That is why I say Singaporeans are too immature for democracy! Only fit to be ruled and herded like sheep..."

:) It would seem like you may be the one who does not grasp the very idea of democracy - that it accommodates a diverse set of opinions drawn from different logic streams, and which may not align with your own.

So you would rather rule and herd everybody into your fold?

gigamole said...

At the end of the day it comes down to trust, and our view of what the elected presidency is. There are many, especially from the TRE fold, who a pushing for an EP that is pretty much a one-man opposition party. This is a position I reject completely.

The EP as pointed out by another poster, is principally custodial, and I would not accept any further empowerment of the position.

Tan Jee Say's constant pushing to challenge the government is worrisome and contributes to my unease about his candidature, despite his impressive credentials.

I may be proven wrong about TJS. Indeed, I would be delighted to be eventually proven wrong, because I think he has tremendous potential. But for the moment, TCB is my man for the job.

Wang said...


Well stated as the President is not the Opposition party.