by Augustine Low
There are many who say Tan Kin Lian is not their first choice.
But more and more, he comes to the fore as the best choice, the only choice, when people realise they are faced with this option: to elect a President that guarantees more of the same or to elect a President to signal change?
For more of the same, we can’t go wrong with Tharman Shanmugaratnam or Ng Kok Song.
For change, the choice is clear: Tan Kin Lian.
Had Dr Tan Cheng Bock been eligible to run, he would have been the first choice. Had Lee Hsien Yang been able to return to Singapore to contest, he would have been a formidable candidate.
But the bar has been raised so high that Dr Tan Cheng Bock is ineligible while circumstances have conspired to prevent a Lee Hsien Yang contest for the presidency.
And since George Goh has been disqualified, who is there left as a magnet for voters but Tan Kin Lian?
Due to the walkover in 2017, people are raring to make their vote count because the fear is that there may not be another opportunity the next time around.
With further tinkering, the likes of Tan Kin Lian might not even qualify in future.
So this could be the last chance saloon for voters – it’s now or never!
A vote for Tharman (or Kok Song) affirms that the President must always be a People’s Action Party (PAP) person or an establishment person, someone with longstanding ties to the ruling party or the political elites.
A vote that says the presidency – like so many things in this country – must stay within the family, the PAP family.
A vote for Tharman is a vote for the status quo, for a President who cannot conceivably be any different from a President Halimah Yacob, a President Tony Tan, a President S R Nathan.
It is saying this country cannot rise above one party, this county must have a Parliament that is PAP-centred, this country must have a President with the PAP symbol on his forehead.
For those reasons, Kin Lian is the best choice for many. He becomes the conduit to send a powerful message to the PAP.
At least there is hope and expectancy that he can channel the angst and concerns of the people. He can probe and he can scrutinise.
The last one who probed and scrutinised with diligence was President Ong Teng Cheong some 30 years ago.
Let it not be said that the people do not have a choice. We do have a choice unlike in 2017.
We can show that despite all the concerns and complaints, we are happy with more of the same and we want the presidency to stay within the PAP family because ownself check owneslf is the only way forward for this country.
That is giving ourselves a tight slap.
Or we can show that we have had enough, the PAP does not have be here, there and everywhere, and it’s time for a President without the PAP stamp of approval, but who brings hope and expectancy to the people.
That is delivering a slap to signal change, a slap that reverberates across the country.