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PE2023: Tan Kin Lian a Less Eloquent Ong Teng Cheong, But With the Same Care for Everyday Singaporeans

“One of the characteristics of Singapore that we should be worried about is that most of us are too selfish and given a choice of ‘what’s for the country’ and ‘what’s for me’, most people vote ‘what’s for me’. But need to encourage more people to say ‘what’s for the country, what’s for society.'”

The late former president Mr Ong Teng Cheong was somewhat a hero to current presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, then NTUC Income CEO, in their younger day.

As far back as as an interview in 2004 regarding Mr Ong, Tan said that more people need to come together to bring patriotism back to Singaporeans.

Cryptically, as though a reason driving Tan to run for president, not once but twice.

Tan worked closely with Mr Ong on the first President’s Charity Ball, as the chairman of the organising committee.

That was one of Mr Ong’s key initiatives to raise funds for poor Singaporeans, and Tan was tasked with putting things together according to Mr Ong’s vision.

Mr Ong was also the founder Patron of the Singapore Dance Theatre, and Tan was asked to served in the board of directors, which he did for more than 10 years.

Regarding Mr Ong’s character, Tan said that Mr Ong was a sincere and open person who is frank.

“He will tell you honestly what he thinks… Mr Ong would represent those qualities of being frank and positive.”

Tan said that he has tried to emulate Mr Ong in his own ways.

“To a large extent, I display similar qualities in the way I do my work. There are many things to be done.”

Tan has largely spoke up for Singaporeans who faced tough times over the past 20 years.

Perhaps, because he recalls that Mr Ong was a president who was not afraid to “do the hard thing”.

In 2015, Tan spoke out against GST – years before the latest publicly unforseen government decision to increase in GST.

He has also publicly spoke up for and assisted retail investors who lost money in the Lehmann Bros collapse, and the Hyflux collapse.

Tan has, for over a decade, criticised the spiking price of housing and cost of living, and the government’s policy of boosting the population through foreign immigration.

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