Monday, August 22, 2011

Dr Wong Wee Nam (and I) intend to vote for Tan Jee Say

Dr Wong Wee Nam has cogently expressed his reasons for voting for Tan Jee Say here.  I am in full agreement with him.

Tony Tan's evasive waffling concerning the so-called Marxist conspiracy (at the TOC forum here) is most disappointing. His capability as an independent guardian of the national reserves is seriously in doubt if he will not deviate one jot or tittle from the government.

For the sake of genuine checks and balances, if Singapore were to have a Workers' Party (WP) government, I'll vote for a President who is unquestionably independent of WP. Given that we have a PAP government, it is therefore imperative that we have a President who in not an unthinking PAP apologist.

It is in the interest of every Singaporean, PAP supporters included, to have a President who is truly independent of PAP. 

Why is there such opacity regarding the reserves and the CPF? Whose money is it anyway? Much disquiet and suspicion surround the government's management of the reserves.

Vote for Tan Jee Say for greater transparency and accountability in government, whether you support or oppose the present government.


Extract of Dr Wong Wee Nam's essay:

Thus, to do his job well we need a man who has good knowledge of the economy and the courage, the impartiality, the conscience and the moral strength to do the job.

There are now four contestants. How then should I choose? Apart from the attributes mentioned above, that person must, in my opinion, have the ability to do what is required of the constitution and the moral courage to do what is good for the country and the people. In other words, he must not just be passively going about his ceremonial duties without any concern for the people who have voted for him.

To me, Mr. Tan Jee Say more than meets all the criteria that I have mentioned.

One of the attributes mentioned above is impartiality. To have this and be manifestly seen to have this, the person must be free from any emotional attachment to the ruling party. Only then can he provide the unfettered checks and balances that the office demands.

There is no doubt Tan Jee Say will be the most ideal candidate to provide these checks and balances. He has no affiliation to the PAP and hence there would not any emotional attachment to hamper him in making independent and objective judgments.

The second attribute is courage. An elected president needs a certain kind of courage to execute his duties without fear or favour. He also needs to be strong-willed and possess a single-mindedness not to waver in the face of tremendous pressure. These qualities are necessary for the president to rally the country and reassure the citizens in times of extraordinary crisis and to deal with any rogue government should one surface.

There is no doubt Mr. Tan Jee Say has plenty of courage. He was the first high-ranking scholar-civil servant to come out and fight a general election on an opposition ticket in May 2011. You need to have plenty of courage to do that. I know Mr. Tan very well. He is a man of principles. He is not an opportunist who will waver and compromise for selfish interest. This is why he did not use his great credentials to offer himself to other political parties except the one that shares his economic ideas.

There is no doubt he has abundance of economic knowledge and financial expertise. He has managed funds in the hundreds of million dollars. His grasp of money matters and how money flows comes to him as easy as turning over one’s palms, as the Chinese saying goes (易如反掌).

I spent one afternoon sipping coffee with Tan Jee Say and in that couple of hours, he could explain how we could derive the amount of reserves by working out from first principles. Like an expert financial plumber, he led me through the intricate routes of how money could flow in and out of the system and circulate all over the place. By the time I finished the coffee, the subject was as clear as a bell. Everything had become so transparent. This shows the man is very clear about his subject and has a good grasp of what he is talking about. I have met many economists, professors and what-have-you but none of them can explain a complex subject in such simple terms. One could not even believe there is a vibrant economy is Geylang!

For this reason, I feel that he is the right man for the job, even if you are just talking about protecting the reserves.

As for conscience, I look to see if a person has a sense of justice. When Mr. Tan Jee Say sees a wrong, he will just say it. He is one person who has a view and does not sit on the fence so as to be politically correct. Take for example the casinos. He thinks that casinos creates lousy jobs and destroys families. Thus he is not afraid to voice out his objection.

It is also the same with the mandatory death penalty and the Internal Security Act. He thinks that they should be removed and says so. It is his strong sense of justice, fervent moral values and keen sense of social concerns that drives him to express his stand openly, take part in elections and serve the people.

Finally, I must say that Mr. Tan Jee Say can really empathise with the common people. His views on the inadequacy of education, the high cost of healthcare, the need for a minimum wage for the poor, and the widening income gap, show his concern for the lowest strata of the population.

He has also pledged to donate the bulk of his salary to worthy causes should he get elected. Some people may say that this is vote buying. Whose vote is he buying? Is he trying to buy votes from the beneficiaries of worthy causes, people who may not be in the position to vote?

Mr Tan Jee Say is a simple and frugal man. He lives modestly and feels he does not need such a huge salary. If you know him, you will know that he is a very sincere person, so when he says he wants to donate, his generosity comes from the bottom of his heart.

This is the type of heart we need for the nation.

Having known the person for who he is and what he stands for, come polling day, I can only say “Jee Say”.

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