But a limp and damp handshake is too frivolous a reason for rejecting a presidential candidate.
In 1991 when the elected presidency was introduced, its purpose was to act as a check against a profligate government. The custodial powers of the elected president would include powers to check governmental abuse of power as well as to have custodial powers against governmental raiding of our national reserves. It seems clear that the PAP introduced this scheme not to check itself but to protect against a freak election result which allowed an opposition group to take over government, and therefore be in a position to 'raid' the reserves.
Increasingly though, the people are now coming round to the idea that the national reserves as well as public service appointments are actually assets belonging to the nation and should be managed in a non-partisan way. The elected president should therefore have custodial powers over the reserves and public service appointments, regardless of which political party is in power. Previous President Ong Teng Cheong had tried unsuccessfully to exercise these powers. But the shabby way he was treated as the people's President because he had the audacity to do his job remains deeply etched many people's minds. I have to confess I still harbour deep resentment for his being denied a state funeral when he passed away.
So never again.
Logically therefore, the uber establishment Tony Tan should automatically be disqualified from the job as he is just too deeply enmeshed with the PAP leadership and the GIC management of our national reserves. How can he be the second key for the reserves when he has been such an integral part of the first key? The increasing litany of endorsements from leaders of unions and establishment groups just continue to flag him out as being so ultra-establishment and so pro-status quo that I find it harder and harder to consider his legitimacy for the elected presidency position. In fact I find it increasingly difficult not to see him as a desperate attempt by the government to stem the growing movement towards greater expectation of a higher level of transparency of government and of the management of our reserves.
It does not help also that he has not 'come clean' about the allegations of preferential NS deferment for his son Dr Patrick Tan. From what I have read of the incident and of his early rebuttals, the whole thing seemed somewhat irregular. And if he as a very senior political leader, cannot see that it was irregular and should not have happened, then I am more than concerned. So be it if it was a lapse in judgement. I can accept that. But if it remains unaddressed, it sets an awful precedence for all our subsequent generations of leaders that such 'white horse' decisions are acceptable and defensible. That's not the road I want our country to go down.
I have actually tried very hard to avoid commenting on the presidential election, but I find it very difficult because it continues to grate upon my conscience. I want my President to represent my country and to function correctly as the custodian of the reserves and a guard against a profligate government. And I am not sure Tony Tan is the man for the job. Sadly though, he may still end up getting the job because of the continued silliness of the other candiates in not wanting to coordinate their efforts for Singapore's sake.
Which of the other three candiates would I vote for? I am not telling you. But two of the three appear to be too driven by their egos for my liking.