1. What do you think of the principles and guidelines laid out in the statement?
I would have preferred the guidelines to be issued at least six months earlier. Earlier publication would have allowed all citizens to give comments freely, regardless of who might appear as candidates later.
As it is issued now, after the candidates and their platforms are known, it gives rise to concerns about fair play, especially where the rules on campaigning now differ from the recently held general election.
Notwithstanding these, I am prepared to contest under these guidelines
2. Why do you think they are being issued?
These guidelines, which are clearly intended to set the rules of engagement, should be fair and even handed. The Singapore people will ultimately be the judge on whether their new President has been fairly and deservedly elected.
3. Which guidelines strike you the most?
I am puzzled by the reference to ".., it is not the President’s role to support or oppose the Government of the day or to advance his own agenda or policies."
The statement had identified the following two duties of the President:
a) be a custodian of Singapore’s reserves
b) ensure that only people of integrity are appointed to the key public sector jobs.
In exercising these duties, the President may have to act independently of the Government in the interest of the people.
There are also other important duties of the President which are not covered by this statement, in particular on the duties of the President in the maintenance of racial and religious harmony, the Internal Security Act, the Corrupt Practices Investment Bureau and the grant of clemency.
In carrying out these duties, the President may have to take a different position from that taken by the Government – especially in a situation where there could be a suspected abuse of executive power.
4. Specifically, how do you feel about the rules on election rally and the category of people allowed to conduct election activities (unlike the GE campaign)?
It is difficult to reach out to the population of several million voters with just one election rally.
With such limited outreach opportunities, the Singapore mainstream media would have a huge amount of influence on the Presidential Elections. I hope that they will rise to the occasion and dispel previous concerns by being truly even handed and fair in their reporting and coverage.
The change in rules on the category of people who are allowed to conduct election activities at this late hour is also quite unfair to a candidate with limited resources.
5. How do you intend to campaign? Will you be holding rallies or walkabouts?
I feel that election rallies and walkabouts are important. We will plan our activities based on the number of days and the types of activities allowed for the campaign
More time to review
These are my immediate reactions. My team and I will be reviewing our plans and strategies and I may have further comments after that.
Tan Kin Lian
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