SINGAPORE – Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian said he will strive for a good relationship with the prime minister should he be elected, so that both leaders can find a way to meet common goals in improving Singaporeans’ lives.
Mr Tan, 75, noted that fellow candidate and former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had on Wednesday said that the ability for a president to provide independent advice and for it to be taken seriously depends on respect between the prime minister and the president.
“So he (Mr Tharman) agreed that the president has soft power,” Mr Tan said at the sidelines of a walkabout at Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre on Friday.
Mr Tan said he agreed with Mr Tharman that such soft power is only effective if there are good relations between the president and the prime minister, and that as president he will seek to convey the people’s “wishes, aspirations and even hardships” without being adversarial with the Government.
“The people of Singapore will want me to convey (their feelings) to the prime minister and I will do so – not in confrontation, but in consultation and collaboration,” said the former NTUC Income chief executive.
On Friday, Mr Tan said he is aware that seeking to change government policy does not fall within the president’s constitutional duties, but that he is “quite determined to do my best to convey to the Government, to the prime minister, to the ministers, my ideas of how some policies can be changed”.
With Mr Tan on Friday was his wife, Madam Tay Siew Hong, who was accompanying her husband on the campaign trail for the first time.
Madam Tay, 67, said she had decided to join Mr Tan on the walkabout and support his campaign because Mr Tan “really loves Singapore and wants to make a contribution to help the people”.
The housewife shared that she had been preparing herbal teas to keep her husband hydrated and keeping his spirits up for the campaigning ahead by preparing his favourite dishes, such as Indonesian rendang.