Elected presidency report: What proposals might mean for 2011 contenders

The four 2011 presidential candidates (clockwise from top left) Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Mr Tan Kin Lian, Mr Tan Jee Say and Dr Tan Cheng Bock.
The four 2011 presidential candidates (clockwise from top left) Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Mr Tan Kin Lian, Mr Tan Jee Say and Dr Tan Cheng Bock.PHOTOS: ZAOBAO, ONG WEE JIN, MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN, LIM SIN THAI

Two candidates who ran in last polls will not qualify for next election if bar is raised

Two of the three candidates who ran and lost in the last presidential election - Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say - will not make the cut for the next presidential polls under changes to the eligibility criteria proposed by the Constitutional Commission.

The other losing candidate, Mr Tan Kin Lian, will likely qualify, along with President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who won in 2011.

The commission recommended raising the bar to ensure candidates have the necessary experience and expertise to safeguard the country's reserves.

Among other things, they 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 Cheng Bock, who said this year that he would make another presidential bid, will not qualify on both counts.

  • Who among the 2011 presidential election candidates would qualify if suggest

  • TONY TAN KENG YAM

    •Eligible

    •Is current president

    •Was deputy chairman and executive director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation from 2005 to 2011


    TAN KIN LIAN

    •Eligible

    •Was head of insurance cooperative NTUC Income from 1977 to 2007


    TAN CHENG BOCK

    •Not eligible

    •Was non-executive chairman of investment holding company Chuan Hup and did not hold most senior executive position

    •Company had $300.7 million in shareholders' equity as of June 30, below $500 million threshold


    TAN JEE SAY

    •Not eligible

    •Held post of regional managing director of asset management company AIB Govett Asia for only five years, less than the required six years

    •Left post in 2001, more than 15 years ago

The former People's Action Party MP qualified in 2011 as he had been non-executive chairman of investment holding company Chuan Hup since 1991.

But the proposed "most senior executive position" requirement excludes non-executive chairmen, who usually lead the board but do not actively run the company. Candidates must have been chief executive officer, managing director or executive chairmen, for instance, to meet this criterion.

As at June 30, Chuan Hup did not meet the proposed shareholders' equity threshold as the company had $300.7 million in shareholders' equity then.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock declined to comment last night when The Straits Times visited his home.

As for Mr Tan Jee Say, he was regional managing director of asset management company AIB Govett Asia from 1997 to 2001, where he managed funds in excess of $100 million. But by the next presidential election, due next year, he would have left the post for more than 15 years. This means he will not meet another proposed criterion for a candidate's qualifying tenure to be within 15 years before nomination day of the election.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Tan Jee Say, the Singaporeans First party chief, said raising the threshold of a company's size to "$200 or $300 million" would be more reasonable. He had not ruled out contesting again, saying his options will become clearer after the Government decides which of the commission's proposals to accept.

Mr Tan Kin Lian, who also ran and lost in 2011, is likely to meet the proposed new criteria. He was head of insurance cooperative NTUC Income from 1977 to 2007. According to its 2015 annual report, it had some $2.6 billion in equity as at Dec 31 last year. Mr Tan Kin Lian, who now runs his own consultancy, could not be reached for comment.

As for President Tan, he is the incumbent.

 

After he left the Cabinet in 2005, he held key corporate posts, including deputy chairman and executive director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

•Additional reporting by Charissa Yong and Rachel Au-Yong


Full coverage on the proposed changes to the elected presidency here

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'What proposals might mean for 2011 contenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe