Letter: The Straits Times Praised Ng Kok Song For Running As President But Ignored Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian Didn’t Get Praise From The Straits Times Even Though He Made An Impact, Too

MS Mail is a series that spotlights contributors’ perspectives. Have an interesting take you want to share? Reach out to news@mustsharenews.com.

I refer to an editorial by The Straits Times (ST) on 4 Sep titled, “Ng Kok Song lost. But he did Singapore a favour running for president“. But, Mr Ng Kok Song wasn’t the only one to have thrown in his hat, Mr Tan Kin Lian did so too.

ST wrote, “the man of these past three weeks ought to be Mr Ng Kok Song…who had thrown his hat into the ring to give Singaporeans a contest.”

But it wasn’t Mr Ng alone who had given Singaporeans a contest — Mr Tan did too. To solely credit Mr Ng without mentioning Mr Tan is to show blatant bias against and unfairness towards the latter.

Why should Mr Ng be deemed to be the only one to have given “Singaporeans a credible alternative” but not Mr Tan when little separated their 15.72% and 13.88% of votes respectively?

Tan Kin Lian not presented as fairly as Ng Kok Song

Mr Ng Kok Song’s supposedly “bold central message”, that the president must be “non-partisan” wasn’t coined first by him but by Mr George Goh instead. You can even argue that Mr Ng was a copycat.

Why deem Mr Tan to have been “flaunting the support he got from opposition politicians” just because he received such support? How should opposition politicians support Mr Tan such that it doesn’t come across as flaunting?

Why should support from opposition politicians in their personal capacity be deemed divisive?

All that Mr Tan Cheng Bock said in support of Mr Tan Kin Lian was that the president should be independent and should not be another establishment figure.

Thus, what opposition politicians said in support of Mr Tan was practically the same as what Mr Ng or Mr Goh before him said — that the president should be independent and detached from the ruling party.

Why is it divisive when opposition politicians in support of Mr Tan say essentially the same thing, but not when Mr Ng says it?

Besides that, in what way is the “pretty girls” comment misogynistic? What is so wrong with complimenting a pretty girl for her looks?

Without a referendum, it would be difficult to know if most Singaporeans were put off by the comment or simply couldn’t care less about it.

Different expectations for presidents

Mr Tan did not make “election promises” to bring “down the cost of living “. He said he would raise these concerns with the Government but defer the final decision to them.

On the one hand, ST wrote about Mr Tan purportedly “raising unrealistic expectations” of the presidential election.

On the other hand, they also wrote, “A well-fought election, coupled with a strong win, strengthens the institution of the presidency and expands its space to play a pivotal role as a unifying figure in a Singapore coming under stress.”

Why should Mr Tharman, the president, expand the president’s role while Mr Tan, if he became president, would have his expectations curtailed?

The expansion of Mr Tharman’s presidential role and curtailment of Mr Tan’s hypothetical presidential role make the role appear flimsy, to say the least, and belittles what it means to be the president of Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian & Ng Kok Song were both independent candidates

Mr Ng winning 15.72% of votes isn’t all that impressive considering that the newly formed SingFirst party also came out of nowhere to win nearly 21% of votes in Jurong GRC against Mr Tharman’s PAP in 2015.

Later, another newly-formed party, Red Dot United, also came out of nowhere to win 25% of the votes in Jurong GRC in GE2020.

Moreover, Mr Ng wasn’t the only independent candidate; Mr Tan was one too. Mr Tan severed his ties with the PAP 15 years ago. Since then, he has never joined any political parties.

If Mr Tan’s association (not membership) with the opposition makes him an opposition candidate, then Mr Ng’s association with PAP makes him a PAP candidate.

As GIC’s chief investment officer between 2007 and 2013, Mr Ng would have had very close working associations with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong who are at the very heart of the PAP. Mr Ng was thus working hand in glove with the PAP.

Mistake to think only Mr Ng made us consider importance of qualified candidates

It’s strange that ST found it striking that Mr Ng beat Mr Tan since they had already identified so many failures associated with Mr Tan’s campaign.

Had Mr Ng failed to beat Mr Tan who scored so many ‘own goals’, it would’ve said a lot about him.

Mr Ng comes across as a combative bulldog who almost always glowers into the camera each time he is being interviewed. It’s difficult to associate this glowering face with someone who supposedly “encouraged us to look to our higher angels”, as ST put it.

ST would be mistaken to think that it was only Mr Ng who “pushed us to think about the importance of qualified and patriotic men and women…stepping forward to act in Singapore’s larger interests, unencumbered by party background…or ideology”.

In this respect, I think Mr Goh beat Mr Ng hands down. Mr Tan also displayed patriotism by stepping forward when he knew Mr Goh might not qualify.

Why did ST publish an editorial to sing so many false praises for Mr Ng but none for Mr Tan? Didn’t our new president Mr Tharman ask for respect for all?

Where is ST’s respect for Mr Tan?


Also read: A Thank You Letter To The Defeated Presidential Candidates, Ng Kok Song & Tan Kin Lian

Have an opinion to share? Get in touch with us via email at hello@mustsharenews.com.

Featured image by MS News.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

  • More From Author