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Tan Kin Lian :Singapore Elect President hopeful
The role and the key duties of the President are spelled out clearly in the constitution. There are various ways in which the President can carry out the duties and I will seek the way that will be best for the country and the people. My views are expressed in this statement:
Statement by Tan Kin Lian – role of the Elected President
1. Recently, some present and previous senior members of government sought to clarify the role of the Elected President as defined in the Constitution of Singapore.
I welcome these clarifications and in principle agree with and respect the prerogative and responsibility of the Government to govern. I accept that the President's office is NOT a separate political centre and does not have any executive power. My own published statements as well as those in my blog have made the very same points.
The gist of the comments has been that the Elected President has only "custodial powers" and not "executive powers". I agree with these comment and in doing so, I would like to point out that we should not suggest that these custodial powers are unimportant or ineffectual. By definition, custodial responsibility entails the provision of protective supervision and guardianship. The Elected President does not govern but is responsible for ensuring that the defined areas under his "custody" are properly and satisfactorily governed. Much can be achieved in a climate of co-operation and mutual respect. This will inevitably lead to national harmony and progress.
I believe that one does not need to be armed with strong executive powers to make an impact. A well qualified and properly elected President will make his impact through the power to persuade, to influence, to counsel, to convey feedback and if necessary, to articulate informed positions on specific issues.
The founding fathers of the Elected President's office would have wanted it to perform more than ceremonial duties. To quote Law Minister Mr K Shanmugan, "the President's veto powers are an important check against a profligate government squandering the nation's reserves, or undermining the integrity of the public service". These powers and responsibilities cannot operate in a vacuum and the Elected President should be given all needed support by the Government and the Civil Service to discharge these.
If I were elected as the President, I like to be able to work in full co-operation with the Government within the roles defined in the Constitution of Singapore. I will not have any political affiliation and will be guided by my five values of Honesty, Fairness, Positive Approach, Courage and Public Service. I will at all times also be guided by the views of the people, which I will actively seek.
It is my hope that in his desire to ensure enlightened transformation, the Prime Minister and his Government will respect, support and facilitate a credible role for the Elected President, for the overall good of the People of Singapore,
2. Reply: I can only suppose that the words "measured and considered" expressed by DPM Teo suggest that that the campaign should be carried out in a dignified manner. I agree with that view.
I also agree that the President should be a unifying factor for all Singaporeans. This statement was first made by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock and I am happy to share the same sentiment.
I believe that Singaporeans can be unified by sharing similar values. I want to encourage them to embrace the values of values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service. Many people have told me that they like these values and are happy to support them.
My actions will be guided by these values. For example, I want to be honest and positive in expressing the concerns expressed by many Singaporeans about safeguarding their CPF savings and the reserves of Singapore. I want to help to address their concerns can be addressed in a constructive way. One way is for the President's Office to issue an annual report that the citizens can understand. This will help in the communication and educating the citizens.
I also shared my views about public service - to address the concerns expressed by many Singaporeans about the high salaries earned by the top leaders, including the President. I want them to know that I am not contesting this office for the high remuneration and will be willing to donate a significant part of the President's salary towards charity, if I am elected. (I hope that my personal views on this issue does not cause any discomfort to other government leaders - as I recognise that they have financial needs and priorities that are different from me).
I respect and support the timely action taken by the Prime Minister to set up a review committee to review the salaries of the top leaders and hope that it will, to a large degree, address this concern of the people. I will do my best to get the people to understand and accept the positive actions that are being taken now.
I believe that the people of Singapore will feel engaged, committed and proud to be Singaporeans, if they feel that they have a voice and that it is being heard. I hope that the office of the President can play a part to provide this channel - although I recognise that other channels are also being developed. To support this initiative, I have suggested the concept of the President's personal council - which I will be giving more thought to in the weeks ahead.
3. I also like to conduct my campaign in a dignified manner. I will follow my values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service and will ask my supporters to do the same. I do not wish to cast any candidate in a negative light or to engage in any activity that may smear or belittle their reputation or character. Instead, I have high regards for the positive qualities of all the candidates who have expressed their interest to contest the presidential campaign.
Many citizens have asked for my personal views on several issues of concern to them. I shared these views so that they can understand what are my values and beliefs. I will also emphasize to them that these are personal views for them to judge me as a person and should not be misunderstood to be the policy agenda that I would promote, if elected into the President's Office (as I have no such intention).