Friday, June 24, 2011

Tony Tan

Tony Tan, a top executive at a Singapore state investment fund and a leading media company, said Thursday he would leave both to run for president of the city-state.
The next election will likely be a referendum on the ruling People's Action Party, which has dominated politics since independence in 1965 but won parliamentary elections last month with its lowest vote percentage amid growing voter resentment.
A party stalwart, Tan recently left PAP because the constitution prohibits party affiliations for the presidency, a largely ceremonial position in Singapore's parliamentary government. Tan will likely be seen as the establishment candidate in the elections, likely to be held in August.
The 71-year-old Tan said he would leave the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. fund on July 1. He is its executive director and deputy chairman. He also will resign as chairman of media company Singapore Press Holdings.
"To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, I have decided to resign from GIC," Tan said in a statement. "I will also resign from SPH so as to remove any doubts about SPH's media's independence."
Tan served from 1979 to 2006 as a member of parliament and head of several ministries, including deputy prime minister from 1995 to 2005. The president's most important authority is to exercise veto power over use of the country's reserves.
"We need a president with experience and a steady hand," Tan said. "If I am elected president, I will be fair and independent."
In parliament elections last month, the opposition gained its most seats since 1965 amid growing voter concern about soaring housing costs and a surge in foreign workers.
Tan's resignation is the second top-level departure from GIC's board since last month, when chairman Lee Kuan Yew stepped down, replaced by his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"Dr Tan is working with GIC management to decide on his successors or changes to the various internal GIC appointments he holds." GIC said in a statement.
GIC and Temasek Holdings, Singapore's other state investment company, each manage more than $100 billion. GIC has large stakes in major banks such as UBS AG and Citigroup Inc.
SPH owns 18 newspapers in four languages, including the Straits Times and the New Paper. It also owns more than 100 magazines.
The government must call an election by Sept. 1, when President S.R. Nathan's second six-year term ends.
Tan has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at the University of Adelaide and was a lecturer at the National University of Singapore before entering politics. He was also chief executive of the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. from 1992 to 1995.
Former member of parliament Tan Cheng Bock and former insurance company executive Tan Kin Lian have also expressed interest in running for president.