Tag Archive | Tan Cheng Bock

Fishy analysis

A Singapore Management University academic has written an essay on Sg’s recent political development. Strangely, it was hi-lited to me by my dear cousin Peter who is living in London!

After reading the article (click on the pdf link to get the full blast!), I felt impelled (note, not compelled 😛 ) to write the author a short note reproduced below:

Hi Dr Welsh,

I read your analysis titled


I might have been persuaded by your arguments if not for the fact that I found your extrapolation from an old woman’s purchase of fish bones for soup somewhat difficult to swallow.

“Many a moment I have witnessed the conditions of the elderly in particular, as I often recall an elderly woman only able to afford the bones of a fish to make a soup at a local supermarket.The elite rule has multiplied in almost cloning fashion in which the PAP only appoint the elites they can relate to,and systematically a corporatist system of divided rule has evolved.”

Dr Welsh, any decent cook would tell you that bones whether from fish, chik, pork etc make good stock for soup, sauce etc.. 😆

Lucy Tan

Having a political background matters!

Yup, you read right. Say what you like, but don’t you think the only candidate without any real political shadow hanging over him did badly in the recent presidential election precisely because he didn’t and doesn’t any real political affiliation?

I’m referring to Mr Tan Kin Lian who lost his deposit because he didn’t get the 12.5% of the votes needed to retrieve his $48,000. Why, he didn’t even get 6.25%! He got under 5%, leading to jokes about “low 5”! And this despite the fact that he’s been visible for years since he quit NTUC Income — online and offline at Speakers Corner at Hong Lim Park.

What’s so different about him from the other three competitors?

IMHO, I think it’s political affiliation. Tan Kin Lian really had none, never mind the fact — which few people knew, really and truly — that he was a PAP assistant branch secretary at some time in his NTUC career.

By contrast, all the competition had overt political connections, never mind if everyone of them strenuously tried to distance himself from, if not entirely disown those connections.

Take Tan Jee Say. He was as recently as May a failed election candidate standing under the banners of the Singapore Democratic Party. He resigned from SDP, as he must, to contest the PE.

He and his running mates — who failed in their joint bid for the Holland-Buona Vista group representation constituency — were very much in evidence in his PE campaigning. The ever-delectable Nicole Seah was there as were other National Solidarity Party luminaries. OK, all in their personal capacity, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. But you get the picture. 😆

It was the same for Tan Cheng Bock. OK, he too said he was his own man. Independent. Above politics ad nauseam. But come lah, he was a PAP man for decades and successfully contested countless elections wearing the PAP badge.

Even all the evidence he proudly displayed to show his independence — speaking out against the Nominated MP scheme, getting free parking in HDB carparks on Sundays et al — were ironically achieved while he was a PAP MP, not because he was independent loner Tan Cheng Bock.

He spoke in parliament and was listened to because he was an important long-serving PAP backbencher who scored the highest percentage of votes in his final election — which incidentally he did not because he was just Tan Cheng Bock, independent but because he was a PAP candidate through and through, white on white.

Given the decades’ long association that he has had with the PAP, it would take decades, not months or a couple of years for the public to view him solely as indie Tan Cheng Bock without also seeing the PAP association in everything he does.

So, guess what? I think he was given a handsome outing because voters inherently associated him with the PAP and his success in garnering almost 35 per cent of the votes is due more to his PAP DNA than he was sweet Mr Independent.

Some observers say that Tan Cheng Bock attracted opposition support. I would like to suggest it’s not so much opposition support per se as voters who had voted against PAP in the general election, ands having taught the PAP “a lesson”, deciding they would rotate the support to a candidate with PAP cred.

As for Tony Tan, he got the solid PAP supporter vote all right. Although he too, in the mood of times, tried to move away from the PAP banyan, he was never vociferously anti or ungrateful about his PAP background. And he is to be respected for that.

And the lesson to be learnt from the recent pressie election? If you want to get anywhere in the next PE in 2017, you better have some political name recognition, overt or at arm’s length. Otherwise, be prepared to lose your deposit!

With the right Tan as president…

  • there’s no need any more to scold the President Elections Committee for being too liberal with the issue of certificates of eligibility
  • my early rush to the Raffles Girls School polling centre last Saturday morning and the tedious trek home after that was certainly worth the effort!

As for those who don’t know whom I supported for president, they need only refer to this link https://singaporegirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/which-president-tan-will-open-parliament-on/

Finally, my riposte to those who keep yada-yadaing that two thirds of Singaporeans didn’t vote Dr Tony Tan, the president-elect, is to ask them to look at the numbers this way:

Tan Kin Lian: 2,011,257 Singaporeans didn’t want him to be president.

Tan Jee Say: 1,585,456 Sgreans didn’t want him to be president.

Tan Cheng Bock: 1,378,060 Sgreans didn’t want him to be president.

Tony Tan Keng Yam: 1,370, 791 Sgreans didn’t want him to be president.

So you party poopers, eat your hearts out! All the other Tan-candidates have far more Sgreans not wanting them to go to the Istana than the president-elect! 😛 😛

In any case, it’s more than unreasonable to expect anywhere near a million votes for the Istana seat when there are as many as four candidates, and all credible, based on the PEC’s ruling.

When was there a four-corner fight with credible candidates in our election for Parliamentary seats? Certainly not at the last general election!

And even if the president-elect does corner up to half the number of votes available, it could still be said that half of Sgporeans don’t want him to be their president!

That’s natural when there’s electoral competition. And in the nature of democracy, we must abide by the candidate who manages to garner the most support, even if it’s just a majority of 1. Given this possibility, a 7,000+ majority must be considered both credible and conclusive, no ifs, buts or humiliation, Economist! 😛 X 3 


What makes me really angry!

Nope, not about MP Penny Low caught by TV cameras looking at her mobile phone while singing Majulah Singapura at the National Day Parade! Instead, I feel sorry for her for the way ubiquitous cameras keep invading her private space, even if she’s an MP — or especially if she is an MP and condemned to be on best behaviour, 24/7!

Nope, I don’t begrudge our government ministers their pay, whether it’s $1 million or $10 million. And definitely not our President his $4 million annual salary, because among his many onerous duties is one that I regard as necessary but oh so painful on the mind and spirit that no amount of moolah can compensate for: signing the execution orders for those felons sentenced to death.

What gets me angry is when I hear about town councils promoting recycling habits among their residents and mindlessly destroying the very eco-system that supports the dirt poor among us: the waste paper, cartons, and other bric-a-brac give the few $ which they depend on to survive a little better beyond public assistance and/or ad hoc charity!

What gets me really angry is when I hear (on 93.8FM some time ago) and read about attempts today to raise multi-million $ to buy dinosaur fossils (see article reproduced below), no matter how rare and in what good condition they may be, for our museums.

Let those who want such “trophies” to be in our museums pay for it out of their own pockets, not tap those with the money but which could be put to better use helping the living right in Singapore.

I’ve in mind this prime example of poverty and deprivation about which I’ve posted for almost a year, here, here, here and here.

I’ve a plea for Tony Tan, Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Kin Lian, our four presidential hopefuls: whichever of you wins the race, please stop championing all the brand name charities! Concentrate instead on those — like the old tramp — without the voice or the patron to bring their needs to the public eye. Your nod in their direction will  ensure that this marginalised sliver among Singaporeans will eat better and live better for the next six years!


Purchase of 3 dinosaurs at risk as donations fall short of target

Less than $2m of immediate $8m needed raised as new deadline looms

By Tan Dawn Wei, News Editor

The deadline set by its sellers has come and gone, but the money to buy three dinosaurs for Singapore’s upcoming natural history museum is still not in the bag.

Since it embarked on an intense race to raise $12 million for the fossils from Wyoming in the United States a month ago, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research has managed to collect only $1.89 million through several donors and public donations through its online portal.

It has since negotiated an extension of the deadline – originally July 31 – with its American sellers and now has one to two months to raise the rest of the money.

The immediate task is to collect $8 million first to secure the three dinosaurs. The remaining $4 million, to be used for transport and to mount the exhibits, can be raised later.

Consider rotating presidency?

From no contest in the past two presidential elections to four candidates qualifying for the upcoming PE on Aug 27! What a windfall for those Singaporeans rooting for competition, even when it is (or is it especially?) for the highest post in the land.

Tony Tan, Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Kin Lian. All are eligible to contest!

The committee certifying the elegibility of candidates has certainly dealt voters a tricky hand. More choice needn’t end up with the right or better choice for the country or the next six years.

So let me suggest a daft — perhaps deft? — solution?

If the Constitution could somehow be tweaked, why not rotate all the four Tans? 18 months’ tenure each.

As each potential President Tan has his staunch followers, rotation means that all Singaporeans would see their fav serving as their president, even if for a shorter term than expected.

Because of the shorter term, each president would earn just $6 million (if that, if what rumours doing their rounds re what the salary review committee would do 🙄 ), instead of the $24 million that everyone and his pet poodle have been barking about.

Less take home pay for the president should also take the wind out of those who jeer that the job attracts money-minded candidates, even though for some of the hopefuls, it’s not about money at all, as they already have plenty, thank you!

Another good reason for rotation is to allow the execution orders on people condemned to hang to be shared out — even if like Pontius Pilate, the president could always argue that it’s the decision of the Cabinet and the law of the land which he has to uphold.

I believe execution orders lie heavily on the minds of anyone who has to sign them. I’ve asked the son of a late presidents how his father dealt with what I consider the most unpleasant and conscience-wrecking task. His reply was that his father tried to be out of the country when he knew such papers were coming his way. I don’t know if that’s true or possible, but that’s what I was told!

In any case, at least one presidential hopeful, Tan Jee Say, (we are both members of the “Lunch Party”) is against the death penalty and in response to my query how he would respond when handed execution orders to sign, he replied:

“I will have a full debate and make sure that every MP and Minister understands fully all the arguments and have a clear conscience. As a student of moral philosophy, I am aware of all the arguments and can hold my own in an intellectual debate with anyone. Reminds me of a similar conversation I had with lawyer and ex High Court judge years ago when we were discussing this particular issue; he too had a similar stand with me and also mentioned that he was a law student in UK when the death penalty was debated at length and finally abolished. I have great intellectuals as allies.”

When I pointed out to JS that the president can’t summon Parliament to have such a debate, he retorted: “I can start a debate in public on matters of conscience if the Government refuses a debate even an internal one with me.”

Now if the four Tans serve just 18 months each, perhaps there won’t be time for such a confrontation to materialise between JS and the government.

Doubtless my idea of rotation is daft. But then, if the ultimate winner of this four-horse race should garner say 40% of the votes or even less, won’t that be equally daft? A minority president wanting to unify the nation?


So the best outcome is for there to be one clear and unambiguous winner who should have as strong a mandate as what the PAP government got. Otherwise what hope is there for the president to stand up to the government which can always say: “Eh prez, more Singaporeans voted for us than you 😛 “

Which President Tan will open Parliament on…

on October 10? (10/10 incidentally is also Taiwan’s national day if I’m not mistaken)

Even in the unlikely scenario of Mr Andrew Kuan clearing the eligibility barrier, IMHO I think the Tan-quartet is likely to stand a better chance at the ballot box. Assuming that all of them would be cleared, for if Mr Kuan is cleared, so should everyone else too, right?  


So who will do the honours on the night of Oct 10?

Will it be President Tan Kin Lian who most curiously has made a trip to Batam over the week-end? It’s OK for the real president to pay one of our closest neighbours a visit, to strengthen diplomatic ties. But when a presidential hopeful does that, it seems like breaking new ground. Singapore might have been part of the Riau archipalego once upon a time but it’s now a sovereign state. And vassal-like activities don’t go well with someone who aspires to be our head of state!

Or will it be President Tan Cheng Bock, the husband of an old school-mate? He’s avuncular but he seems to take life and himself so seriously that he wears a perpetual frown. If he’s to be weighed down further by the affairs of state and the even weightier duty of signing death warrants, it will surely ensure that he would never be able to smile again — assuming Dr Tan does ever smile!

It could be my monthly lunch kaki Tan Jee Say reading out the Government’s plans for the next 5 years, his $60 billion transforming Singapore salvo probably consigned to the cabinet of wishful thinking. Still if he gets into the Istana, it’s the best consolation prize for his failed attempt to get into Parliament and a prime illustration of that saying, “if first you don’t succceed, try, try again”. Or another English adage: lose a penny, find a pound (sterling lah!)

But it’s most likely to be President Tony Tan who will open Parliament in a little over two months from now. He was deputy prime minister and had held other critical portfolios of education, defence and finance. Besides politics, he had also been a prominent banker, rising to the post of executive chairman of OCBC Bank.

Among the presidential candidates, he’s the only one who has had an eagle’s eye view of Singapore’s public and private sectors. And precedence is on his side as well. The late President Ong Teng Cheong had also been a deputy prime minister be4 he became president.

Walter Woon for president?

Now that Mr S R Nathan has also spoken about the presidency, chances are he might well stand again, age notwithstanding.

The line-up could then be:

  • Incumbent president, Mr S R Nathan.
  • Mr Tan Cheng Bock, ex-MP and ex-PAP man, who was the first to collect his eligibility form on June 1.
  • Mr Tan Kin Lian, ex-NTUC and ex-PAP, who after friends had collected the form him, has since confirmed he will be standing.
  • Mr George Yeo, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister, ex-Ajunied MP, now away in Taiwan and whose fans have also collected a form for him. He is praying hard be4 making his decision known.
  • Yet another “Tan” may be entering the presidential race. He is Dr Ton Tan, ex Deputy Prime Minister and current SPH chairman, who was reported as saying that times will be hard ahead and the next president has to be someone who understands finance and how GIC and our other reserves are managed, and policy trade-offs. His comments are taken to suggest that he too may contest, prompting FakePMLee, a popular tweeterer, to call the presidential election the clash of the ti-Tans.

Since the list of presidential wannabes is lengthening, I might as well add one name that I would like to see in the ring.

He is none other than Prof Walter Woon, ex-Nominated MP, ex-Singapore ambassador to Germany and several European countries, ex-solicitor general and ex-attorney general. And currently he heads the Institute of Legal Education.

If Prof Woon does go for the presidency and wins, he will be the first Singapore president to have successfully introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament — the Maintenance of Parents Act — as well as knowing the laws and constitution like the back of his hand.

And unlike Mr Tan Kin Lian, Prof Woon will not have problems with protocol when dealing with foreign dignataries. He may live as simple a life as Mr KL but he’s well trained in diplomacy! 😆