Dr Tan Cheng Bok’s Pre-emptive Strike


By: B Goode

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory – Gandhi

By ancestry, I was born to rule – Mandela

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.- Churchill

I quit Jurong Hospital because I didn’t like the name – Dr Tan Cheng Bok


Dr Tan Cheng Bok must have thought that he had stolen the march by announcing his intention to contest the presidential election some sixteen months in advance. Unfortunately his thunder was stolen by the scandal of the year.

Oh well.

His purpose is questionable. Firstly, it is not that he is a rookie to the political scene. So he doesn’t need the time to get bedded in so to speak.

Secondly, unlike the US Presidential election, there are no preliminaries.

So to me, it is nothing more than a political strategy. And it is a clever ploy albeit a flawed one; and that is to pre-empt what’s coming from the Elected Presidency Review (EPR).

The EPR committee have yet to make their recommendations. Meaning, `the rules of the game’ have yet to be determined. So for Dr Tan to throw his hat into the ring prematurely is akin to someone gate-crashing a party without knowing what the dress code is. And what would he do if he was stopped at the velvet rope because he was not properly attired?

I’d suspect Dr Tan would cry foul.

“You’ve changed the dress code to formal simply because you saw me coming in tee-shirt and jeans!”

“Now please change it to casual so I could get in.”

Millennials are said to have an unwarranted sense of self-entitlement. But Dr Tan is 75.

Personally, I’d love to see him contest the Presidential Election and win.

Just to see how he’d try to change the name of Farrer Park to something else. Because you know, I doubt Mr Farrer paid for the park.

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4 Responses to Dr Tan Cheng Bok’s Pre-emptive Strike

  1. george says:

    “So to me, it is nothing more than a political strategy. And it is a clever ploy albeit a flawed one; and that is to pre-empt what’s coming from the Elected Presidency Review (EPR). ”

    If Dr Tan Cheng Bok appears to be pre-empting the EPR by announcing his intention to take part in the next EPE, then surely equally the LHL govt appears to be using the Elected Presidency Review as a tool to PRE-EMPT others like Dr Tan who took part in the last EPE from participating in the next EPE.

    As you appeared not to accept what Dr Tan has said at face value, I would like to ask you why have you accepted so readily what the govt said? If you think Dr Tan’s announcement is a political strategy, are you saying the LHL govt EPR is not?

    While you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, you refuse to see the log in your own. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Do you not see the similarities?

  2. Tan S Y says:

    In reading the singapore beacon’s article above, I did not perceive that he was casting a stone at Dr Tan. He actually says that he hopes Dr TCB would win.

    I do agree with the owner of this blog that Dr TCB was perhaps declaring his intentions a tad too early. I know enough of how the US presidential election works where it has the preliminaries (thank goodness that we don’t have this system). And because of this system, the candidates have to get into the ring more than one year ahead to push out other hopefuls within their own party so that only he or she remains standing to be the nominee.

    While I don’t know Dr Tan’s intention I would say that he could be embarrased and angry if he could not qualify. Then he might declare that PAP wanted him out. Dr Tan is a politician and like all politicians he would use strategies to give himself an advantage – nothing unusual about that – although we see again and again that not all strategies will work out to the politician’s plan. We can only wait and see.

    • george says:

      Is there any other way to conclude it, if the review resulted in Dr Tan becoming ineligible and excluded? The PAP sponsored current EP Dr Tony Tan won only by a whisker of not even half a percent at the last EPE from his nearest rival Dr Tan Cheng Bok. In other more enlightened and democratic countries, the result would have entailed a second round to more decisively decide between the two Dr Tans in view of the slimmest of margin between them AND importantly the EP must be seen to enjoy the moral support of at least a simple majority of the people when they cast their vote between the two of them. And it is by no means a given that in a second round of voting between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bok that the latter would emerge victorious on the presumption that voters who initially cast their votes for the other two Tans during the first round, would automatically give their votes to him.

      In fact, as things stand, the PAP the other two candidates – Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say appeared to have been the crutches that helped Tony Tan into the Istana. Dr Tony Tan is often light-heartedly but factually referred to as the ‘one-third’ president for a good reason.

      Furthermore, I think it is wrong and disingenuous to continue with the facade and illusion that just because there are now theoretically exponentially more people in the private sector who could ostensibly ‘qualify’ because there are now more ‘at-least $100 million’ private companies, it is therefore necessary now to up the ‘ante’ so to speak, to trim them down to size. Inter alia, I say this because such an assumption is clearly not supported by the facts and figures of the last two EPE. How many of the so-called eligibles had actually taken part to justify this preview to up the minimum qualifying figure? BTW, there would have been at least more than a thousand eligibles in the last EPE. But how many from the private sector actually took part? We can count them on the fingers of one hand and still have lots of fingers to spare!

      Then, there is also the oxymoronic TOR for the Committee to tweak the pre-requisites to provide for an ‘Elected’ President who would actually be able to get into the Istana with the blessings of the govt by virtue of skin-colour, never mind that he/she does not make the grade corporate experience-wise. It would indeed be a mockery of the entire ‘must-have’ corporate experience argument if this ever come to pass. Singaporeans have to hope and pray that during the tenure of such an ‘minority’ EP that there would not be a rogue govt in power or a huge economic calamity or global financial storm that first prompted the PAP govt to tailor-make the EP’s role to safeguard the national reserves. It makes one question if the govt is really serious about its own stated objectives?

      BTW, Dr Tan Cheng Bok did not get my support at last EP.

  3. Pat Chue says:

    Rules for the 2017 EP will be reviewed. Due to racial rotation requirements, candidates must , above all, NOT be Chinese.

    To accommodate people like Dr TCB, a Vice President’s position – open to Chinese candidates, will be created.

    Now, wouldnt it be great?

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