Above: Dr Tony Tan, accompanied by his wife, collecting the forms for the presidential candidate at the Election Department on Thursday.
Former deputy prime minister Tony Tan said he decided to come forward and run for president because he could not remain a spectator while Singapore faces "complex changes".
At a news conference held yesterday at Rendezvous Hotel to announce his bid, he said that the past few years had seen difficult times and "unprecedented changes in the global financial system and world politics".
Singapore, like other countries, is still "grappling with hiccups" and the need to undertake tough decisions to reform institutions in coming years, he added. That is why he believes the country needs "a president with experience and a steady hand".
Dr Tan, 71, a political heavyweight who held key portfolios - such as in finance, defence and education - during 27 years in politics, said he would run as an independent candidate.
He stressed that it was his own decision to run for president, and that he had not been approached by the Government.
|Tony Tan runs as independent presidential candidate
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"My candidacy does not have the backing of any political party, and I'm not seeking such backing," he said.
Although not legally obliged to do so, he will resign from his posts as deputy chairman and executive director of sovereign wealth fund Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) next Friday.
He will also resign as the chairman of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on the same date, so as to "remove any doubts about SPH media's independence", he said.
When contacted, a GIC spokesman said: "Dr Tan is working with GIC management to decide on his successors or changes to the various internal GIC appointments he holds."
A press release from SPH said SPH's deputy chairman, Dr Cham Tao Soon, will be appointed acting chairman from next Friday, while the board begins its search for a suitable candidate for the position of chairman.
Dr Tan has made invaluable contributions during his tenure as SPH's chairman since 2005.
He was instrumental in taking steps to expand the media company's property business, such as developing a residential condominium, Sky@eleven, in 2007 and acquiring Clementi Mall in 2009. Both have generated additional income streams for the group, said the release.
He also steered SPH out of the recent financial crisis. Under his stewardship, the company achieved record revenue and operating profit of $1.38 billion and $539 million respectively in the 2010 financial year.
Dr Tan joins former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian, 63, and Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 71, a former People's Action Party MP, who have both confirmed their presidential bids. President S R Nathan, 86, has not yet ruled out seeking a third term.
As to whether he has the temperament for being a president, Dr Tony Tan said he "would not have put myself forward if I did not think that I have the capability and the right frame of mind to execute the duties of the presidency".
The following are some key issues he raised during the question-and-answer session.
On what he thinks are the qualities of a president:
He said the president is someone who is "experienced, steady, has worked in the Government, has knowledge of the international system and who knows the conditions, both nationally and internationally, in order to come to wise decisions". He added that "it's very important for Singaporeans to take all these into account when they cast their votes in the presidential election".
On the other presidential candidates:
It is a good thing that people here have a choice as to who their president will be, said Dr Tan. "How this choice is exercised, it's up to each Singaporean," he added.
On his support for greater openness by sovereign wealth fund GIC:
Dr Tan stressed that the GIC is a fund-management company, with the Government as its client. Like all investment firms, it is bound by client confidentiality, and there are limits to what the GIC can disclose.
Still, the GIC has become more open than before and began issuing annual reports on its management of the Government's portfolio in 2008.
"I support this trend towards greater openness and transparency and I would expect this trend to continue," he said.
On the role of the president vis-a-vis that of the Government:
Dr Tan said it is not the responsibility of the president to try and suggest changes in policy.
"There's only one power centre in Singapore and that is the Government of the day.
"The presidency...should not be the second power centre to rival the Government, otherwise there will be chaos."
He added that he must say what he believes in and what he feels is good for Singapore.
"If it happens to coincide with some of the views expressed by the ministers, well it's up to the people of Singapore to judge, but I don't think it's the job of the presidential candidate to express contradictory views for the sake of just being different," he said.
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