Tony Tan has resigned from the PAP and confirmed his running for the president as an independent candidate just like Tan Cheng Bock. Many people will be wondering how independent does it mean? Is he PAP’s sponsored candidate just like the past elected presidents? Teng Cheong and Nathan did not claim to be independent candidates and were comfortable to be seen as PAP’s choices. Is the announcement that he is an independent candidate puts him at a distance from the PAP and would the people believe this to be so?
It is in the interest of the PAP to have its own sponsored candidate as it had done so in the past. The Elected Presidency, like the GRC, is designed to favour the PAP’s choice of candidate. And it is unlikely that PAP would not run a presidential candidate and give up its stake in the Elected President. In all reasonings, Tony will be seen as the PAP’s candidate unless PAP actually put up another candidate with an official endorsement of support. Without doing so, how many voters would believe that Tony is not PAP’s candidate.
Tony is PAP’s trump card, the strongest card it has played and available to the party. The winning of the presidency by a PAP backed candidate is of paramount importance to the party. It must win as the other candidates have openly stated that they want to be guardians of the reserves, exactly as what the elected president was set up to do. Life will be tough or at least not as easy going should anyone not on the PAP’s side is elected.
How would the people decide who should be their president? Would they choose a president the PAP wanted, or would they choose otherwise? Or would PAP just leave the situation as it is, that Tony is an independent candidate and not say anything in his favour? Given Tony’s standing and stature, it should be a walkover. He has all the good qualities expected of a president. He even looks like a president.
It is not that Cheng Bock or Kin Lian look less like a president. They too look quite good. If one were to place all the cards on the table, Tony definitely has a big edge. The only thing going against him is his closeness with the PAP.
If the people find that a truly independent president, independent from the PAP, is the crux of the matter, and the most important attribute of the president, then all the goodness of Tony may be swept aside. If the people want a president that will stand up to the PAP, then unfortunately, Tony will not be their candidate of choice no matter how many thousand times Tony claimed that he is an independent candidate, ready to do what is expected of him as the President, to protect the country’s reserves.
There is nothing Tony can do to remove himself completely from his past association. You can’t blame anyone for thinking that he is PAP. It would be an uphill task for Tony to persuade the people to think otherwise. He can try of course.
So, what do the people want? A rejection of Tony will be the clearest warning that the PAP has lost all its political capital and on its way out. This is a presidential election to watch, coming so close behind the last GE. The GE was a watershed. The presidential election could be a waterfall. It will see another of PAP’s foundation being knocked down should Cheng Bock or Kin Lian trounce Tony. It will be another attempt by the people to chip on the PAP’s armour of invincibility.
The public consensus that no opposition can bring down the PAP except the PAP itself is becoming a reality. Both Cheng Bock and Kin Lian were PAP. It is the breakaway, the internal rivalry that is coming to the open. It only needs the people to help make it happen.