Tan Kin Lian outlines vision for presidency: Advocates soft power and greater transparency

SINGAPORE: Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income and one of the three nominees for the 2023 Singapore presidential election, clarified his vision for the role of the presidency in a statement published on his campaign website.

The statement comes after successfully filing his nomination alongside former People’s Action Party senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song.

In response to remarks suggesting he’s pursuing a non-existent role, Mr Tan confirmed his pursuit of the office of President as outlined in the Singaporean Constitution.

He highlighted the two specific duties of the president – to safeguard past reserves and uphold the integrity of public service.

However, Mr Tan has broader aspirations. “Beyond these constitutional duties, I have a vision – to use the president’s office to influence policies that will make a better life for the people of Singapore,” he said.

He emphasized three core areas of focus: reducing the cost of living, ensuring affordable housing, and facilitating stable job opportunities.

Mr Tan acknowledged that while the president doesn’t possess executive authority over these matters, the role has significant influence, or “soft power”, due to its prestige.

“I believe that the president has tremendous soft power due to the prestige of his office and from the strong mandate he receives through the presidential election,” Mr Tan added, pointing out that the president is likely to receive more votes than any parliament member or even the Prime Minister.

Mr Tan further clarified he doesn’t intend to oppose the elected government but seeks collaboration to achieve his vision.

He underscored the powers granted to the president under section 3 (1) of the Inquiries Act 2007. This allows the president to issue a commission to inquire into public officers’ conduct, the management of public departments, or any matter deemed to be in public interest.

Addressing concerns of transparency and accountability, Mr Tan expressed intent to leverage this power, especially in light of recent events termed as “scandals”.

Mr Tan also reiterated this during a press stop after his morning walkabout on Wednesday.

Lim Tean, Peoples Voice leader and Mr Tan’s seconder for the presidential nomination, echoed these sentiments on Facebook.

He praised Tan’s resolve against the PAP’s “Ownself check Ownself” approach and lauded him for his commitment to greater transparency and inquiry.

Singaporeans will head to the polls on 1 September to make their choice for the Singapore’s ninth president.

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