Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian
Former NTUC Income Chief Tan Kin Lian has confirmed that he will be running in the Presidential Election, which must be held by August 31.

On his blog, Mr Tan wrote that he will contest if given the certificate of eligibility.

He also shared his thoughts on the key role of safeguarding the reserves that the elected President has to play.

Calling it "holding the second key", he said former President Ong Teng Cheong had expressed difficulty in performing this role.

Mr Tan said there are two main concerns Singaporeans had shared through Internet postings on the reserves.

One was the safety of the Central Provident Fund and if the government has enough money to make payouts to Singaporeans at their respective withdrawal dates.

The other concern was whether there are reserves to protect Singapore's economic security in the challenging global financial environment.

Mr Tan said these concerns were worsened by the decline in trust in the government in recent years and a lack of transparency on the reserves.

He said as the constitution required the elected President to give approval of past reserves or "reserves accumulated by previous governments", an understanding was needed of what is defined as "reserves", and what is considered "past reserves" and "current reserves".

Mr Tan said he will be studying a White Paper, published after former President Ong Teng Cheong completed his term in 1999, on the principles of the role to understand if it helped the President to discharge his duties in an effective manner.

He also elaborated on the approach he would take if elected President.

Mr Tan said it's important to educate Singaporeans so that there is a clear understanding of the issue and a broad based agreement on how to deal with the issue.

He said that the Office of the elected President should produce an annual report showing the reserves of Singapore with financial assets of the relevant bodies stated at both the book value and market value.

This report, he said, should also show the obligation of the government and should include the balances held by the people held in the Central Provident Fund and also the bonds and guarantees issued by the government.

Mr Tan said some may worry that it will be a challenge to produce this Annual Report.

However, he pointed out that it's what multi-national corporations have to do now and the accounting profession could produce this type of consolidated report for the President.

Mr Tan believes the publication of the report would improve transparency and assure Singaporeans of their financial security.

He also touched on the investment policy adopted in the investments of Singapore's financial assets.

He asked if the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and Temasek Holdings should adopt an active investment approach to increase the return on assets or adopt a conservative approach such as by avoiding speculation on market timing and asset selection.

Mr Tan said his personal preference is to adopt a conservative approach in the investment of Singapore's assets and to use the influence of the President's office to achieve this goal.

He recognised that there may be limitations in the power of the President on this matter and welcomed feedback from people who have better knowledge of this issue.