Disappointed, but will continue to contribute in other ways: Tan Cheng Bock on not being able to stand in next presidential election

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Dr Tan Cheng Bock joined the PAP in 1979 and was MP for the Ayer Rajah single-seat ward from 1980 to 2006. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who lost in the 2011 presidential election, has expressed disappointment that he will not be able to contest in the next presidential election in 2017.

But he said on Saturday (Nov 12) that he will continue to contribute in ways that he can, such as attend events, give talks, and make home visits to the elderly who require medical help.

The retired medical doctor and former People's Action Party MP had announced his presidency bid in March this year, but will not be eligible to contest after recent changes to the elected presidency.

The changes which Parliament approved this week require candidates drawing on their private sector background to have been the most senior executive of a company with at least $500 million in shareholders' equity.

Previously, they could have been chairman or chief executive of a company with $100 million in paid-up capital.

Another change, to ensure minority representation in the office, will see elections reserved for candidates from particular racial groups when no one from the group has been elected president for five continuous terms.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Tuesday (Nov 8) that the next presidential election will be reserved for Malay candidates, as the country has not had a Malay President for the last five terms.

Speaking briefly to reporters at a charity event in Chai Chee Road, Dr Tan, 76, said: "You can't say I'm not disappointed. But there are many options in life. We never quit."

He added that he had hoped to run for presidency again as he "wanted to see certain changes".

"But if I can't get that, never mind. Life still goes on. I can still help Singapore."

He did not want to be drawn into commenting on the changes to the elected presidency, saying he will respond on his Facebook page in due time.

He added: "I think you will hear a lot from me. Because (when) you love this place, you'll want to do what is best for the country."

Dr Tan had contested in the four-way presidential election in 2011, and lost to President Tony Tan Keng Yam by 7,382 votes.

The other candidates were Mr Tan Jee Say, who went on to found opposition party Singaporeans First, and former chief executive of NTUC Income Tan Kin Lian.

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