Don't jump to conclusions on elected presidency review: Tan Cheng Bock

People should not jump to conclusions that the elected presidency was reviewed to disqualify him from running in the upcoming elections, said Dr Tan Cheng Bock in a Facebook post yesterday.
People should not jump to conclusions that the elected presidency was reviewed to disqualify him from running in the upcoming elections, said Dr Tan Cheng Bock in a Facebook post yesterday.PHOTO: ST FILE

People should not jump to conclusions that the elected presidency was reviewed to disqualify him from running in the upcoming elections, said Dr Tan Cheng Bock in a Facebook post yesterday.

Dr Tan, who contested in the 2011 presidential election, may not be eligible for this round after the Constitutional Commission recommended more stringent criteria for candidates in its report published last Wednesday. In his first comments since then, Dr Tan told his supporters to wait for the debate in Parliament over the proposed changes.

He said many Singaporeans have expressed worry that he will be excluded by the new criteria put forth by the panel. The former People's Action Party MP had declared his intention to make a second bid for the presidency earlier this year.

The commission suggested that candidates must have been, for at least six years, the most senior executive of a company with up to $500 million in shareholders' equity.

Dr Tan qualified for the 2011 election as he was non-executive chairman of investment holding company Chuan Hup. The current rules require a candidate to have been chairman or chief executive of a company with paid-up capital of at least $100 million.

WRONG ASSUMPTION

We should not jump into (sic) conclusion that the whole exercise was to prevent me from running. After all, the people in charge are men of virtue and integrity and would not resort to doing this.

'' DR TAN CHENG BOCK

But the suggested changes would disqualify him on two counts. He would not have been the company's most senior executive, nor would Chuan Hup meet the proposed shareholders' equity threshold. The company had $300.7 million in shareholders' equity as of June 30.

The commission also recommended, among other things, that if nobody from one racial group has been president for five terms, the next election should be reserved for members of that race.

The Government will issue a White Paper in response to the report on Thursday, and it will later be tabled in Parliament.

Dr Tan noted that when the Bill is debated, it may be supported, amended, or even rejected.

"We should not jump into (sic) conclusion that the whole exercise was to prevent me from running," he wrote.

"After all, the people in charge are men of virtue and integrity and would not resort to doing this."

SEE INSIGHT

Five questions: 1. Eligibility: Will a higher bar mean better candidates?

Five questions: 2. Race: Will reserved elections have desired effect?

Five question: 3. Election: How to iron out potential problems?

Five question: 4. Campaign: Legislate against pitching false promises?

Five question: 5. Timing: When should the proposals kick in?

How to pick a good president

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Don't jump to conclusions on elected presidency review: Tan Cheng Bock'. Print Edition | Subscribe