My supporters and I had expected a contest of 2 or 3 candidates for the Presidential election. The issuance of the certificate of eligibility for 4 candidates has changed the landscape for the contest.
Some friends suggested that I consider stepping down to avoid splitting the votes of Singaporeans who prefer to elect a person who is truly independent of the PAP Government. They suggested that I would gain “political capital” for making this sacrifice.
Having thought over this matter, I am making full preparation for a 4 corner contest. My decision is consistent with the personal values that have brought me to this contest. These are the values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service.
I first articulated these values several years ago. I published these values in my blog and also teach the values to my students in a local university.
Earlier, I entered the Presidential contest to give a chance for the people to vote for a President and avoid a walkover. I also wanted them to vote for the values that will guide our country in the future.
My first goal of giving a chance for Singaporeans to vote has now been achieved, as there will still be a vigorous contest, if I decide to withdraw. But the second goal has still not been achieved.
As a public service, I had pledged to donate at least half of the salary to charity and other worthy causes. None of the other candidates have made any pledge on this kind.
As the voice of the people, I will convey the concerns and aspirations of the people to the government and work constructively with the government to find solutions that are best for the people.
Reflecting the value of fairness, I want to see Singaporeans enjoy a better quality of life, a lower cost of living and a narrower wage gap. I want to influence government policies to achieve this goal.
The Law Minister has said that these activities of the President are unconstitutional. I disagree. I have said - The constitution does not require the President to be dumb. By speaking out, the President will also be doing what is right for the people and the country.
It takes courage to argue against the Law Minister and other key ministers, and even to face the prospect of being removed from office. I am willing to speak up on what I believe to be right.
Being positive, I believe that my participation in the election is useful, as it gives the chance for people to think about this election from a different perspective – and to vote for person based on the values that he can bring to the country.
I also value honesty and wish to express my intentions clearly to the people of Singapore.
My friends have suggested that I shift my position either to the right to win the votes from the PAP camp or to the left to win the votes from the opposition camp. I prefer to avoid politics altogether and to approach this contest from a truly non-partisan angle.
I appeal to all Singaporeans, regardless of the political party that you support, to consider - Do you want to elect a President based on politics or on values that will guide our society and our country in the future?
I have served the people of Singapore in many capacities during my past 35 years. I was active in the grassroots movement and in working with trade unions, cooperative societies and in many government committees.
Many grassroots leaders, trade union leaders, cooperative leaders, civil servants and ordinary Singaporeans know me. They know the kind of person that I am and know that I have always been more concerned about the welfare of other people, rather than my personal gain.
I hope that the people who know me will give me your support – if you think that our country and our future can be better guided by a President with character and clear values and a heart for the people.
Tan Kin Lian