Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The Presidential Election Committee must grant a Certificate of Eligibility to a candidate before he would be able to contest the Presidential Election.

So far we know that there are 3 serious contenders. Don't forget that there's a fourth chap who has collected the papers for submission, Mr Ooi Boon Ewe. He is likely to be rejected by the Committee (as he was when he applied to contest for the 2005 Presidential Election).

I wonder if the PEC will grant the COE to all the 3 Tans. I believe that there is little doubt that the hardcore PAP supporters will go for Dr Tony Tan. I suspect that the hardcore anti-PAP voter would go for Tan Kin Lian. Dr Tan Cheng Bock is inevitably the one that could be the vote splitter. Would he split the PAP supporters or the opposition supporters? It would be interesting to see.

Given the current political climate, I believe that if it was a straight fight between Dr Tony Tan and Tan Kin Lian or Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Dr Tony Tan would lose. If we take the general election result as a starting point, 60% voted for the PAP and 40% against. Whilst the 40% can be trusted to cast a vote against the PAP 'approved' candidate in the Presidential election, the same cannot be said about the 60% who voted for the PAP. Many amongst the 60% already showed unhappiness but were either unconvinced by the opposition, inspired by local constituency level issues, cowed by fear or swayed by last minute apologies. I believe that, in a Presidential Election, these voters would not hesitate to vote for the candidate that presents himself as 'non-white'. This would work to the advantage of the candidate racing against Dr Tony Tan.

If the COE is granted only to Dr Tony Tan and one other candidate, I strongly believe that the other candidate would win. If the 3 Tans get the COE, Dr Tan Cheng Bock would either split the pro-PAP or the pro-opposition voters.

Would the 3 Tans qualify for the COE?

Under the constitution the following criteria needs to be met (in addition to others that I feel is not really an issue for the 3 gentlemen):

The candidate must satisfy the Presidential Elections Committee that he is a person of integrity, good character and reputation.

For not less than 3 years, he must have been either a Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Attorney-General, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Auditor-General, Accountant-General or a Permanent Secretary;
Chairman or CEO of CPF Board, HDB, JTC or MAS;
Board Chairman or CEO of a company with paid-up capital of at least $100 million

If the candidate does not meet the requirement of 3 years' experience in those positions, he can still qualify if he occupied a similar position (based on seniority & experience) in any other organisation of equivalent size/complexity in the public or private sector. The criteria here is that the PEC must form the view that the candidate's position has given him experience in adminstering and managing financial affairs so as to enable him to discharge the President's functions effectively.

Given the background of the 3 gentlemen, I believe that the PEC ought to grant the COE to all three men unless the Committee for some reason decides to question or doubt one of them on the ground of integrity, good character or reputation. This, I believe is unlikely.

In all probability we are looking at a 3 horse race.


Anonymous said...

How did nathan meet the criterion then?
It really didn't matter. If MIW really want to spoil the COE for you, even something like "reputation" is subjective. But of course, they would be foolish to attempt something so blatant in today's context.

Anonymous said...

what if COE is only given to TT, the other two being rejected? We will see history repeat itself, just like how Nathan won without a fight years ago.
Who, by the way, are in the so-called PEC or selection committee? Are they all pro-PAP fellows?

Subra said...

well... Mr Nathan was a Perm Sec at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.. also Executive Chairman of Straits Times... Chairman of Mitsubishi HEavy Industries Singapore... He qualified because of some of his past appointments and positions.
Of course, the problem is that the PEC rejected 3 other applicants in the last PResidential election and NAthan came in uncontested.
I hope that the same does not happen now with Dr Tony Tan coming in unopposed.

Anonymous said...

"I hope that the same does not happen now with Dr Tony Tan coming in unopposed". Unquote.

Provided Tan Kin Lian gets approval and Tan Cheng Bock does not withdraw at the last minute.

Anonymous said...

somehow I feel there is a conflict of interest. Shouldn't Tony Tan be disallowed to stand because he was one of the bosses of GIC and Temasek Holdings. Isn't there a conflict of interest? Would he not be blowing his whistle at himself if there are anything amiss as the caretaker of our reserves??

The Pariah said...

@ Anonymous at 7:01pm - I fully agree with you that there is a Good Governance issue at stake.

I reckon we have a Systemic Risk in this total lack of Gardening Leave - be it for Parliamentary or Presidential Election.

Dr Tony Tan was Deputy Chairman of GIC for many years until he tendered his resignation on 23 Jun 2011.

If appointed/elected as President, that means that two-three months later, Dr Tony Tan takes on the key custodial role over our National Reserves.

Our National Reserves are boosted/eroded by the performance of our Sovereign Wealth Funds (of which GIC is the significantly larger heavyweight of the two SWFs).

The Pariah said...

4-horse Race:
Not likely based on the current 4 "Tans" as Mr Tan Jee Say does not qualify based on his claim to $100mn Assets Under Management (it would be a farce if the Presidential Elections Committee extend "Paid-Up Capital" to "AUM").

3-horse Race:
TCB+TKL votes > TT votes will be legal win but moral loss for PAP-preferred TT who is deemed whiter than TCB (although I can trust that msm will slant TT+TCB aggregation vote for PAP) ... unless TCB or TKL withdraws for the "larger good" to avoid split votes!

2-horse Race:
I agree with Subra that "they" will avoid this at all costs (even if it means letting in PAP-thorn-in-the-flesh Mr Tan Kin Lian who can be easily disqualified on a technicality of "co-op" versus "company").

1-horse WALKOVER:
Wish-list of PAP if COE granted only to TT - never mind about Will of the People.

WAYANG - Drum Roll WITHOUT Curtain Call ... unless some dark horse comes waltzing in from behind (eg, Walter Woon who auto-qualifies as former Attorney-General except that he is technically one-year short of the 3-year stint).