Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Long shot presidential candidate set to enter the race

It looks like the presidential election may not be a battle between the Tans after all - of course, it assumes that all five aspirants are approved to contest the election.

Former JTC Corporation group chief financial officer Andrew Kuan has indicated in an exchange on his Facebook page that he is likely to head down to the Elections Department tomorrow, 27 July, to pick up the application forms for the certificate of eligibility (COE).

This would be in keeping with his announced plan to collect the forms in July and make him potentially the fifth candidate in the coming election to choose Singapore's seventh president.

Mr Andrew Kuan appears to be confident of his chances judging by his choice of words and his decision to miss the Toastmasters International convention in Las Vegas. Mr Kuan had written, "When I receive the eligibility certificate to contest in Singapore presidential election, have to be in Singapore in August 2011."

Despite his confidence, Mr Kuan is probably a long shot to be approved as a candidate in the presidential election which must be held by 31 August. The soon to be 58-year-old Mr Kuan is remembered for his failed bid to become a candidate in the 2005 presidential election, which led to President S R Nathan being returned to office for a second term.

Compared to the other potential candidates for the presidency, Mr Kuan has largely kept a low profile since announcing his intention to run for president. His Facebook page and website also does not indicate much activity.

Maybe Mr Kuan is waiting for the Writ of Election to be issued and to be granted the COE before he invests his full energies and resources into the race to the Istana. This may be a wise move given the large expenditure expected to mount a campaign for the presidency.

In terms of unofficial pre-election campaigning, Mr Kuan is also lagging quite far behind the other aspirants which include former deputy prime minister Dr Tony Tan, former member of parliament Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former NTUC Income chief Mr Tan Kin Lian and former opposition politician Mr Tan Jee Say.

The four Tans have been busy with their individual efforts to plant the seeds of awareness of their possible candidacy in the minds of voters even before they have been officially granted the right to run the race by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC).

Mr Kuan's silence since announcing his candidacy earlier this month had given rise to speculation that he may be withdrawing his bid to become the next president of Singapore.

Such speculation was not unwarranted given the crowd of potential candidates that have thrown their names into the ring and the recent memory of Mr Kuan's withdrawal from contesting the Joo Chiat seat in the May general elections to avoid a three-cornered fight.

And despite his apparent optimism, I cannot but feel that Mr Kuan and his supporters may well have to be prepared for the possibility of him being denied the COE yet again given the stringent requirements spelt out in the Elected President Act. One consolation though, is that Mr Kuan may not be the only possible candidate to be rejected by the PEC.

But if by the chance, the PEC should choose to endorse all five applicants for the COE, Singaporeans may well be treated to a very lively election campaign - albeit one that is conducted in a dignified manner as befitting the office of the president.

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