Born in the year 2000, I belong to Generation Z.
I have known three Presidents during my 23 years. The year before I was born, President S R Nathan got elected and he served until 2011.
President Tony Tan then served for six years, followed by President Halimah Yacob for six years.
I call these combined 24 years the lost years. Lost in the sense that they are entirely forgettable years as far as the presidency is concerned. We had three Presidents who never really went beyond being a mere figurehead.
Interestingly, Presidential candidate Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam has invoked the name of late President Ong Teng Cheong several times during his campaign.
This is because he fully knows that President Ong has stood out as the one who displayed independence, courage and conviction.
After his six-year term ended (1993-1999), President Ong was told the cabinet would not support him for a second term.
He felt that he did not need the cabinet to support his re-election bid, but in any case, President Ong decided not to run against the government’s candidate S R Nathan.
It is one thing for Mr Tharman to invoke the name of President Ong.
It is a different matter altogether whether he has the spine and streak of independence that President Ong possessed.
Another presidential candidate, Mr Ng Kok Song, has cautioned against having a former finance minister, who established the rules on how the country’s reserves can be used, becoming President.
“You need somebody who knows enough about the subject, but who is not biased. It’s very difficult for someone who set up the system to question the system,” said the former chief investment officer of sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Mr Ng hit the nail on the head.
How is it possible for Mr Tharman, an insider who set up the system, to suddenly be an outsider looking to question and check the system?
However, Mr Ng himself is an establishment candidate. He and the third candidate, Mr Tan Kin Lian, are both 75 years of age.
Mr Tharman is the youngest. At 66, he can easily serve two six-year terms if elected to office.
We have already endured 24 lost years. Do we want to lose another 12 years?
My choice is between Mr Ng Kok Song and Mr Tan Kin Lian.
I favour Mr Tan Kin Lian. Although he has his flaws, he is the one who is truly independent of the establishment and the ruling party.