Who is likely to capture the Presidency? Will it be the former deputy prime minister Dr Tony Tan or former PAP MP Dr Tan Cheng Bock or the former NTUC Income chief Mr Tan Kin Lian or investment adviser Mr Tan Jee Say?
With all the excitement that has been whipped up so far in the election campaign and still with a few more days before polling day it may be a bit premature to give a definitive assessment of the chances of the four candidates. But initial assessment may show that Dr Tony Tan may be in an unassailable position. He has been pledged with support from trade unions, clan associations and Chinese, Malay and Indian Chambers of Commerce. But it does not necessarily mean that the rank and file of these unions and associations will heed their leaders in their choice. They may have their own personal preferences.
Not least of all, PAP leaders like PM Lee Hsien Loogn and ESM Goh Chok Tong have given Dr Tony Tan tacit endorsement which may bring him most of the 60% Pro-PAP votes. But Dr Tony Tan's stand on the Marxist conspiracy detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the graduate mothers scheme is going to go against him because of his untenable position.` He is just unable to extricate himself from his intricate position.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock has solid support of voters in Ayer Rajah Constituency but outside of it is an unknown factor. So far he has shown that he is a formidable opponent of Dr Tony Tan and has presented himself as a credible candidate for the Presidency. His idea of requiring the PMO and Cabinet Office to be moved out of the Istana complex if he is elected president has gone down well with the electors. This will cause quite a flutter to the prime minister and put him in a fix whether to move out of the Istana complex or not. Dr Tan Cheng Bock also has the support of leaders of some opposition parties in their personal capacity which means that his chances of getting some anti-establishment votes are quite good. His chances of being elected will depend on the percentage of pro-PAP votes he can hive off from Dr Tony Tan. His non-establishment votes are not likely to be significant.
Mr Tan Jee Say's candidature has been a source of consternation to the PAP leaders. In his campaign he has never ceased to remind voters that his mission as president, if elected, is to provide checks and balances on the PAP Government. But he has been careful to qualify that by saying that he will not be openly adversarial to the Government. He can be considered as the only candidate out of the four who is independent of the PAP Government. There is no reason not to expect him to get solid support from the 40% anti-establishment votes which may be just enough for him to secure the presidency. Imagine former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and ESM Goh Chok Tong having to stand up before Mr Tan Jee Say when approached by the latter if he is elected president, a former personal private secretary of DPM Goh Chok Tong in the civil service. It will be difficult for LKY and GCY to live down this appartent humiliation.
Mr Tan Kin Lian strikes one as an enigmatic candidate. He is a former PAP cadre but the PAP does not appear to be particulary impressed with his service to the party. He claims to be independent of the PAP but with his past PAP connection can he really expect Singaporeans to believe him? He is in a comical position where he can neither attract pro-PAP votes nor anti-establishment votes. He may believe otherwise. He can be so insensitive that he can go electioneering at a solemn memorial ceremony for the late political detainee Mr. Tan Jing Quee. He should consider himself lucky that he was not ejected from the gathering. He promises to be the voice of the people if elected. He is also concerned whether he will be able to secure 12.5 per cent of the votes so that he will not lose his deposit.
The hustings are getting more exciting each day and there will be more campaigning by the four candidates in the next four days. We will know on 27 August after polling has ended who is the lucky candidate to be the new elected president. Whoever he is should deserve the unanimous approbation of all Singaporeans. If Dr Tony Tan is elected, then the question of unanimous approbation is in doubt because he is the least of the four candidates that netizens want to see elected.