SINGAPORE: In a candid discourse with the media on Sunday (20 Aug), presidential candidate Mr Tan Kin Lian vocalized his intent to advocate for a closer look at Singapore’s financial reserves should he be elected.
While walking through Chong Pang Market and Food Centre in Yishun, Mr Tan raised a pivotal question about the nation’s fiscal health.
“More important is how much do we need? Are we saving too much at the expense of the current generation so that we have more money for the future?” the former NTUC Income chief questioned.
Mr Tan’s concerns echo the sentiments of many Singaporeans who have expressed to him that the cost of living is “too high” and their desire to access their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings sooner.
Proposing an alternative, Mr Tan opined that there is a “better way that will help the current people without harming other people”. He remained tight-lipped on specifics but committed to revealing more in the future.
Apart from fiscal concerns, the subject of National Service (NS) reforms was also broached.
Reacting to a supporter’s plea to curtail the duration of NS, Mr Tan asserted, “I think we should let our young people serve the country, but I don’t think they should serve for two years. And the country can afford to pay them a better allowance.”
While he stopped short of offering detailed figures, he recalled his 2014 petition pushing for a year-long military training.
Mr Tan’s recent eligibility for the September 1st presidential elections pits him against notable figures such as former CIO of GIC, Ng Kok Song, and ex-People’s Action Party Senior Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
This electoral season also revives memories of the late Ong Teng Cheong, the first elected president.
Known affectionately as “the People’s President”, Mr Ong’s tenure was marked by his persistent inquiries into the nation’s reserves.
Speaking in an interview after his term, Mr Ong remarked in frustration, “As president, I have to safeguard them and they can only be drawn upon with my permission. So I said to Mr Goh: It’s already halfway through my term, but until today I still don’t know all these figures about the reserves.”
In the looming presidential election, these reflections from the past coupled with Mr Tan’s recent comments and the emphasis of safeguarding of the reserves by the two other candidates, indicate that the debate over Singapore’s reserves is set for a comeback.