SINGAPORE: Last Friday (11 Aug), Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of Income and a contender in the 2011 presidential race, made an official announcement regarding his participation in the upcoming presidential elections. This decision sets the stage for an anticipated political showdown.
On the same day, the Elections Department also revealed significant details about the Singapore Presidential Election. The designated Nomination Day is scheduled for 22 August, with the polling day set for 1 September.
Up to now, four individuals have expressed their intention to participate in the upcoming election. The initial candidate to declare his candidacy was former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 8 June.
Following him were entrepreneur George Goh and Ng Kok Song, former Chief Investment Officer of GIC.
Following the Elections Department’s announcement, each potential candidate has been actively engaging with the grassroots, garnering media exposure, and effectively utilizing social media to connect with voters while advocating their vision for Singapore’s future.
For instance, Mr Tan Kin Lian is scheduled to feature in the “After Office Hours Podcast” by Singalex on coming Thursday (17 Aug).
A teaser trailer has been circulated on TikTok, showcasing a casual encounter between Mr Tan and podcast host Johnathan Leong at an MRT station.
After confirming Mr Tan’s participation, Mr Leong extended an invitation to him for the podcast.
In a trailer segment titled “Retired CEO Tan Kin Lian hates Bugattis, believes in contentment,” the host introduces Mr Tan as the “King of Facebook” and an “aspiring president for Singapore.”
Mr Leong then sought clarification from Mr Tan regarding his impressive achievement during his tenure as the CEO of NTUC Income, where he claims to transform the company’s net assets from S$28 million to S$1.17 billion in 2006, before stepping down.
During the podcast, Mr Tan humbly attributed this achievement not only to his efforts but also acknowledged the favourable economic growth of the country during that time.
Later in the conversation, Mr Tan expressed his practical approach by mentioning his intention to take the train to his destination and then call for a Grab ride when needed, aiming to save money for his retirement.
“Most of the time I would take public transport,” he said.
The host playfully pointed out that if Mr Tan, who doesn’t own luxurious cars like Bugattis or Maseratis, still opts for public transport, then there’s little excuse for others not to do the same.
Mr Tan even humorously added that he doesn’t even own a Toyota.
For those interested, the full podcast episode is scheduled to be released on 17 August at 8 pm on Singaplex’s official YouTube channel.
@Tan Kin Lian retired CEO and millionaire, shares the secret to contentment – it’s not Bugattis 😆😎✌️💯💥 Join the: Singaplex: After Office Hours Podcast on YT! #sgtiktok #podcastclips #presidentialelection #sglife #retirement
Tan’s humble beginning
Born into a large family of six children, Tan’s early life was marked by adversity. With his family living in rental rooms and frequently moving due to lease expirations, Tan’s experience of hardship began at a young age.
Following the loss of his father’s livelihood during the 1965 Indonesian Confrontation, he left school after secondary four to support his family, despite being among the top students in Raffles Institution.
Working in various roles for 12 years, Tan eventually qualified as an insurance actuary. His dedication caught the attention of NTUC Income, which recruited him in 1977. Over the course of 30 years with the company, he led NTUC Income from $28 million in assets to a staggering $17 billion, a 600-fold increase. Tan left the company at 59 in 2007.
Tan’s time at NTUC Income was characterized by a dedication to the cooperative society model. He emphasized ploughing most profits back into the company to provide higher bonuses for policyholders, instead of channelling it towards large dividends for shareholders or hefty salaries for the board and management.
A frugal approach to operating expenses allowed Tan to keep premiums low for policyholders, ensuring they paid less.
During his tenure, over 1 million policyholders enjoyed the benefits of this model, with many expressing their appreciation for his management style. Tan hopes that his past performance will rally these policyholders, and their children, to his side in the upcoming election.
Tan’s role at NTUC Income clearly meets the revised private sector criteria introduced in the 2017 Singapore Constitution amendments, as the shareholder equity of NTUC Income exceeded $500 million in the last three years of his service there.
For Tan, the principles he applied at NTUC Income extend to running a country: keeping expenses low, including ministers’ salaries, to ensure a lower cost of living and lesser taxes for citizens. Living a frugal life himself, Tan encourages others to adopt the same approach.
Tan’s commitment to public service extends beyond his professional career. He was instrumental in starting the first residents’ committees in Singapore in 1979 and led fundraising efforts for its first community centre.
This grassroots involvement continued for two decades. After leaving NTUC Income, Tan launched a computer software business and began providing insurance consultancy services in Indonesia while maintaining active involvement in social issues in Singapore.
Tan’s family life is centred around his wife, a homemaker who has taken care of their three children and now assists with their five grandchildren.