Today I speak to you as a fellow Singaporean; as a fellow voter: I feel proud to do so. On Saturday, we will go to our polling stations and I will vote for my friend, Tan Jee Say. I would like to tell you why.
The President, to me, if the first citizen of our nation. I love our country. And I will only vote for a candidate who also loves our country. Our people: our neighbours and friends.
I will not vote for those who defend the right of the government to hide information about the GIC from me. I cannot vote for present or past members of the PAP who appear to have suddenly come round to the belief that the people have a right in their finances when, for so many years, they wholeheartedly approved of keeping things from us.
I will not vote for those who once defended the right to imprison people without trial and now keep silent on whether it is right or wrong to torture people while under detention.
I will not vote for those who were members of a party that supports - supports - torture.
I will not vote for those who are happy to receive millions of dollars in salary while their own policies have made many people poor.
In short, I will not vote for those who do not share the aspirations, the hopes and dreams, the fears and uncertainties of the people.
I will vote for the person in whom I can invest my commitment to the nation, my love for its traditions, my pride in its history, my sense of brotherhood with my fellow citizens.
I will vote for the person whom I can trust to safeguard our reserves and ensure the top jobs go to the right people.
But most importantly, I want to vote for the person who holds, within his person, the Singaporean nation. I will vote for the candidate whose sense of decency has called him out of a quiet, private life, a modest life, to serve the people.
I want to be able to say confidently to my president: go and represent our nation on the international stage, go and be a dignified host to our visitors, go and tell the world how proud we are of our little red dot.
I have a niece who was born in Singapore but has lived her entire life abroad. When she was 9, she was very curious about our presidency, which is very different in her own country. So, her mother, my sister, encouraged her to write to our president.
He invited her for tea at the Istana. They had soft drinks and spring rolls and curry puffs. He took her on a tour of the building. What all our tourist attractions, our shopping malls could not do, was achieved in that one afternoon. He made her his guest, a guest of Singapore. He showcased our country to her. He was her host.
My friends, what do we look for in a host? A host is someone who represents the dignity and honour and integrity of the household. Who is responsible for its hospitality and for welcoming strangers.
That little child came away with a high estimation of our land. A land of high standards. A land of warmth. A land that embodies the values of humanity.
To me, the centre of our nation is the Istana. Each time I pass by its ceremonial entrance at the eastern end of Orchard Road, I feel proud, because I know that everything that is best about us, everything that is nicest, is embodied there.
In the olden days, Parliament selected a person at the height of his career and asked him to represent us, to embody us as President. 20 years ago, Parliament saw fit to expand his responsibilities, to ask him to safeguard the family savings and oversee the family elders.
Why? Regarding the family savings, it is obvious. With our family elders, I mean, our key office holders, whose appointments the president approves, we look for:
- A good name; and
- A dedication to the future of the nation.
And so also we look for someone similar at the head of our nation. Someone we can trust to act justly. I would like to say to you, as a fellow Singaporean, a fellow voter, on this historic occasion, that my friend, Tan Jee Say, embodies these qualities. He is the man I would like in the Istana because to me, he represents the future of our community, not the past.
A future where the divisions that now plague us can be healed rather than deepened.
A future to where our president will help to lead us as one, not divide us into rich and poor, citizen and foreigner, university graduate or not university graduate, disabled or able-bodied, young or old, PAP voter or opposition voter.
The world we inhabit today is a different world. We want a president who will take us forward, not preserve the past, preserve the divisions, and call it stability.
Watch him, talk to him, and you will see as I do, as his family does, as his colleagues and friends do, that he will bring honour and simplicity and dedication to the presidency.
We don’t need many university degrees in the Istana – after all four out of our six previous presidents did not have them. And even though Jee Say’s academic credentials are unquestionable, before anything else, he is a decent man. He will help to unite us, who have been so unfairly divided these several years.
And so, on Saturday, I will choose Tan Jee Say as my president. I ask you to do the same. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you.
In closing, I hope you will allow me one personal comment: As I have watched her this last year, as I have come to know her, I cannot think of anyone else in the nation that I would rather have as our First Lady than Mrs Patricia Tan.
Thank you very much. I wish you a good evening.