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PE 2023: Opposition leader and former PE candidate Tan Cheng Bock declares support in 'personal capacity' for Tan Kin Lian

SINGAPORE — Former presidential candidate and Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) chairman Dr Tan Cheng Bock has come out to endorse presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian as they share a “common vision” on the need for an independent candidate.

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  • Former presidential election candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock endorsed Mr Tan Kin Lian on Sunday (Aug 27)
  • Dr Tan, the chairman of the Progress Singapore Party, said that he is endorsing Mr Tan Kin Lian in his "personal capacity"
  • Both Dr Tan and Mr Tan Jee Say spoke about the need for an independent President and why they are supporting their former rival candidate
  • Mr Tan Kin Lian also claimed he is independent, despite having the backing of opposition party members like Peoples' Voice's Lim Tean and People's Power Party's Goh Meng Seng

SINGAPORE — Former presidential candidate and Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) chairman, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, has come out to endorse presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian as they share a “common vision” on the need for an independent candidate.

When asked by members of the media on Sunday (Aug 27) about whether the PSP is endorsing Mr Tan, Dr Tan said several times that his endorsement was in his "personal capacity" and he was "not here as a politician for this election".

Dr Tan, who spoke to the media after having breakfast at People’s Park Food Centre in Chinatown with Mr Tan and Mr Tan Jee Say, described the trio as "comrades" despite having been former rivals in the Presidential Election in 2011.

Dr Tan was also asked about presidential candidate Ng Kok Song's comments that presidential candidates should ideally not be backed by political parties, to which he emphasised that he was endorsing Mr Tan Kin Lian in his own personal capacity, and not as PSP's chairman.

“The Presidential Election should be apolitical… but issues quite political do appear. So that’s why I say we must always focus — what is this election about?" he said.

Dr Tan said the Presidential Election should be about who can perform the President's duties best — namely safeguarding the reserves and finding the right people for the top levels of the civil service.

Dr Tan had contested in the 2011 Presidential Election, coming in second to Dr Tony Tan with 34.85 per cent of the vote.

Mr Tan Jee Say, who is Mr Tan Kin Lian’s proposer, received 25.04 per cent while Mr Tan Kin Lian received just 4.91 per cent of the vote — coming in last of the four contenders.

(From left) Mr Tan Jee Say, presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian and Dr Tan Cheng Bock at a press conference on Aug 27, 2023.


Dr Tan said one reason he endorses Mr Tan Kin Lian is the need for an independent candidate, adding that a President who "is with the establishment" may feel "uncomfortable" if they choose to take decisions that are contrary to the establishment's.

When asked about his thoughts on the flak Mr Tan Kin Lian has received around his comments about “pretty girls”, among other things, Dr Tan described it as "gutter politics".

He also pointed out that the Presidential Elections Committee had already given its approval through the certificate of eligibility and found Mr Tan Kin Lian to be a character of good standing.

In his opening remarks, Dr Tan also expressed his disappointment that Harvey Norman Ossia chairman George Goh was not eligible for the Presidential Election because shareholders' equity was raised to S$500 million from S$100 million. 

Because this limits possible candidates from the private sector, Dr Tan described the adjusted requirements as “not a healthy trend”, and one reason he supported Mr Tan Kin Lian. 

Mr Tan Jee Say, who is a member of the Singapore Democratic Party, also voiced his support for Mr Tan Kin Lian on Sunday morning.

“I’m very worried about the integrity of the public service in light of recent public scandals,” he said.

“As a former civil servant myself before, it is not easy for a civil servant to (relay) to a minister if he thinks something is not right. There are many grey areas,” said Mr Tan Jee Say, who served as principal private secretary to Mr Goh Chok Tong when he was Deputy Prime Minister. 

These grey areas include understanding if a minister’s request is for the public interest or for personal interest, he added.

“I think clear rules must be set for this… We’ve had the same Government for 64 years, the distinction between civil service and Government becomes blurred.”

He also added that Mr Tan Kin Lian’s thoughts about the reserves — that “not too much should be saved (such) that it burdens the people” — were something that he resonates with.


About the support he is receiving from two of his former rival candidates, Mr Tan Kin Lian said he was "very happy" and described them as a “unity team”, adding that he will rely on "their valuable advice to reach the people".

Highlighting that they had collectively received a combined 64.8 per cent of votes during the 2011 Presidential Election, Mr Tan said the trio will offer to work with the Government to achieve their common goal of making life better for the people.

“We will help the ruling Government to be a better Government by improving accountability and transparency through independent audit and scrutiny,” said the presidential candidate.

However, when asked if the two men would be nominated by him to be part of the Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr Tan Kin Lian said he has not asked them yet but that they are “excellent candidates”.

“I will ask them after I’m elected on Sept 1,” he said.

(From left) Dr Tan Cheng Bock, presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian and Mr Tan Jee Say at People’s Park Food Centre on Aug 27, 2023.

Mr Tan Kin Lian was also pressed about whether he can be considered independent considering several opposition politicians have voiced their support for him — such as Peoples’ Voice’s Lim Tean and People's Power Party's Goh Meng Seng.

To this, Mr Tan Kin Lian said that he has "always been independent in (his) thinking".

"If you look at my past history, the last 15 years, I have expressed independent views on government policies as a private citizen," he said.

He also added that he has not received any funding from political parties.

Mr Tan Kin Lian added: “If you play politics, you spend too much time fighting each other.

“I want to make sure that the views and aspirations of the people are conveyed to the Government so that they are taken into account in the final decision that the Government makes."

Related topics

Presidential Election 2023 Tan Kin Lian Tan Cheng Bock Tan Jee Say

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