Nov 23, 2008
Tan Kin Lian eyes presidency
Ex-NTUC Income's chief will run if he has 100,000 people willing to support him
By Nur Dianah Suhaimi
HE HAS become a familiar face addressing the crowds of investors at Speakers' Corner.
Standing before Singaporeans and asking for their votes at an election could well be next on the agenda for Mr Tan Kin Lian.
The 60-year-old former chief executive officer of NTUC Income told The Sunday Times he is considering standing as Singapore's next elected president or contesting in the next general election as an independent candidate.
He made no bones about his political ambitions in an interview with the paper.
But first, this king of petitions wants to see at least 100,000 signatures and names of Singaporeans who are willing to give him their support.
'I will only do it if enough people want me to lead. If Singaporeans want change, they must have a stake in it and show their commitment by putting down their names. I cannot do this without strong support,' he said.
Such a petition should be put together by those who are keen to see him become a leader, and not by himself, he added.
And as for his political ambitions, they are not for himself, but for Singapore, he claimed.
'I don't need to be president. I have enough money and I lead a simple life. I travel by bus and MRT even though I can afford a car. So what's the point? I don't need this kind of trouble,' said the father of three.
He bought a Toyota Camry for his wife four years ago and now shares it with her.
His wife, a housewife, fearing a political backlash, is also against the idea of him running for elected president and has even called him 'mad' for harbouring such an interest.
While he has to respect his wife's wishes, it is his dream that Singapore has leaders who represent the people and their aspirations.
'They don't have to be very highly educated. They just need to be the voice of the people.'
Which ward does he plan to contest in at the next general elections as an independent candidate, I asked.
Get the 100,000 signatures first, he replied.
'I need to know that people want the change. If not, then there is no point.'
The signatures of support will also help him convince his wife that he has enough backing to embark on a political career.
Said Mr Tan: 'Actually I prefer to take it easy. I've been working for 40 years. But if enough people want me to lead, then I will.'
If there are 100,000 SGians coming forward asking you to be their leader, how to say no? If 100,000 asked me to be their leader and for a good cause (and not say be terrorist leader or those will die kind lah hahaha!), I will also step up! I dare say anyone will step up. So like this count as ambition?
Sembawang GRC is the largest ward with about 185,000 people. So 100,000 people on your side is already a clear comfortable election win. You will have a clear mandate anywhere in SG.
The ST saying Tan has political ambition is misleading. In giving himself this hard-to-meet condition of 100,000 supporters, Tan shows his ambition is one of reluctance. He will be damn lucky to get half that number or 20,000. And even then he will win a landslide in any single ward contest.
So do you still think Tan has political ambition, as the ST puts it? If not, what then is the ST up to? Hmm...