Congratulation to Dr Tony Tan for being elected Singapore’s 7th President

Aug 28, 11 Congratulation to Dr Tony Tan for being elected Singapore’s 7th President

SINGAPORE: Dr Tony Tan has been elected Singapore’s seventh President, winning by a 0.34 per cent margin, or 7,269 votes. 
He secured 744,397 or 35.19 per cent of total valid votes, while Dr Tan Cheng Bock received 737,128 or 34.85 per cent of the valid votes.

It was a long and widely followed election. Being one of those years where there was a General Election (in May 2011) and a Presidential Election (in August 2011), the social media buzz was loud and furious.

Mr Tan Kin Lian was one of the first few to have utilised social media. Earlier in the year, he was suddenly very vocal about topics and had started to attract interest to his name. He started talking about investments, then about insurance. Ironically, he was slamming most insurance products even though he was the CEO of NTUC Income. He also started to appeal to the unsophisticated investors by showing that he will be the evangelist that fights against the big bully, be it the big corporations, the governments, etc.

Mr Tan Jee Say was the next to have increased his social presence. He came out to compete in the General Election as a candidate for the SDP. I wrote a fair bit about him with regards to one of his rally speeches. I personally feel that he has a good head on his shoulder, with ideas that have a high possibility of working. However, being the President might not be the right office for him, and he might be better off as a MP. Unfortunately the SDP reputation wasn’t particularly good, and that might have cost him some points. But being the way he is, it is also unlikely that WP will be a good match to his confrontational style.

Dr Tan Cheng Bok also came out during the General Election. He already stepped down from active MP duties earlier on, but I told my friends that he was one of those competent PAP members still around today. It was then that I discovered his website and read up more about him too.

Dr Tony Tan is someone people would know. He was probably already known by all Singaporeans, but didn’t have a special social presence. In fact, if you googled Tony Tan last week, you wouldn’t have been able to find his official website. This basically shows the lack of social online presence among the older folks. To that extent, how the incumbent government has been a little backwards with regards to online interaction.

In the earlier days of the election campaigning. I thought of voiding my vote. Simply because it didn’t really matter to me which guy will be President. If anything, I would like to strike off Mr Tan Kin Lian from my list, and then any of the other 3 would do. Later on, I was just listening to all the speeches and went to talk to some of my friends. That was roughly when I concluded I didn’t really want Mr Tan Jee Say to be the President.

I envision the role of the President to be like that of the chairman of a corporation. In economic ideals, a chairman is the lead independent non-executive director. As compared to the CEO, which is the lead executive director. So what does that mean to me? Basically that means the other directors will listen and agree with what he says because he is the lead director. This applied to both the PAP and the opposition members. Independent basically means he takes in the concern of all the stakeholders. This is important, because it seems people want the president to take in the concern of themselves, while neglecting the concerns of other stakeholders. Of course, he shouldn’t act in proxy for the government only, that would defeat the purpose of being independent. Non-executive basically means he is not concerned by the day to day operations of the corporation. His job is to provide influential insights to the direction and role of various people in the corporation, thus his authority as stated in the constitution.

In this sense, I don’t think Mr Tan Jee Say was an ideal candidate. He was not old enough to have the experience to influence. Besides Nicole Seah which is like a star struck fan, I don’t believe he has enough influence among the opposition even, let alone the incumbent PAP members. He is also a fairly confrontational and emotional person. In one of his interviews where he was debating with Dr Tony Tan, he was not able to maintain his cool which I thought that that was something a President should have.

Eventually I was undecided between Dr Tan Cheng Bok and Dr Tony Tan, up till the moment I walked from my house to to the polling centres. Both are very very good candidates. Both has it’s disadvantages. Let’s admit it first. Politics is never a clean game. In the last few days, I have found dirt on every candidate and how some underhand measures were used. But that’s basically the way politicians has been since the beginning of time right? Look at Bangkok, UK, USA, France, etc. All politicians have a power struggle. Some very underhand means have been used before, and that includes staging an event that your opponent is convicted due to alleged rape and thus lowering his reputation. Don’t think the opposition are as helpless as they present themselves.

Dr Tan Cheng Bok has quite a lot of grassroots support and I admire his style. He presents himself as a very grandfatherly figure. Someone that dishes out care and advice. He has built his campaign very well, especially his use of social media at his age. His campaign manager and team must be very good.

Dr Tony Tan is still well respected in the business community and among the business leaders of society. I believe he also has the experience to share, the only question is how proactive he is. I do hope the current polling results will create a more active Presidency.

In my opinion, there is too much PAP-hate in the social media. No matter, we gotta view things in a neutral light. “65% of Singaporeans voted against Dr Tony Tan, he’s going to lack legitimacy” But then, *any* candidate would have 60+% voting against them right? A lot of young people voted against Dr Tony Tan, but he still won, doesn’t that mean that there are some other people who voted for him? Is your voting rights worth more than others? Are you saying that other people are so stupid that they don’t do their own analysis? That people will follow endorsements without thinking? That you are the only smart one that chose the correct candidate? There seems to be a lack of sportsmanship nowadays. In the past, when someone won a sporting event/battle/debate, people come round and shake hands and be merry. Nowadays, people sulk. They don’t accept other people’s opinion on why the other person won. We need to have a more open mind.

What we need to do going forward is to contribute more to society, not trying to attack it. I have mentioned many times before to many  people. Somehow there seems to be a rise of social unrest, not just in Singapore, but all around the world. Who would have thought there would be riots in UK? Who would have thought that there would be 20-30% unemployment in some of the most beautiful parts of Europe? I hope we don’t get to see that in Singapore.

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