Dr Tony Tan
Yes, I am happy that he invited the bloggers to the media conference where he announced his intention to run in the PE. But that invitation happened because by his own admission, bloggers cannot be ignored any longer because they have a "role in news dissemination and commentary in Singapore".
Although Dr Tony Tan said that he is running as an independent candidate, everyone from the government, from the current President to the Prime Minister, have come out and endorsed him (even if it is not explicitly). I suspect what will happen next is the NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say, will come out to say that Dr Tony Tan is a suitable candidate and that the labour movement will support his candidacy.
I wonder why PM Lee says that Dr Tony Tan "will be a unifying figure for all citizens"?
The last General Election showed that Singapore is quite polarised between the supporters of PAP and the supporters of the opposition. What has Dr Tony Tan done for the opposition, when he was in the government or since his retirement? Of course, he has successfully sued opposition politicians for damages on charges of defamation.
Mr Tan Kin Lian
Although I know Mr Tan Kin Lian personally and must say that he comes across as a very concerned person, I am not convinced that he will be a very good Elected President; and I say that because he seem to be too closely associated with the opposition.
A candidate from the Workers' Party, Png Eng Huat picked up his certificate of eligibility forms, the former secretary-general of National Solidarity Party, Goh Meng Seng is among his list of volunteers, and he has spoken at Singapore Democratic Party rallies (just to name some instances of involvement with the opposition).
And I am also concerned that his intention to "issue an annual report to show how much reserves" Singapore has, may not be in the best interest of Singapore, lest we become targets of global raiders.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock
Dr Tan Cheng Bock on the other hand, has been a PAP man for many years, but even there, he had a reputation for being the 'opposition' within the PAP. He has also not failed to understand concerns of the opposition since he left the PAP. During the last GE he attended a few opposition rallies. He also attended TOC's appreciation dinner for Mr Chiam See Tong.
I think that the President who will be elected has got to be a "unifying" person. A person who can unify the gulf between the PAP supporters and the those of the opposition, so that Singapore can go forward as a society. And my gut feeling says that Dr Tan Cheng Bock, can be this man.
In his exclusive interview to TOC, he also said that he will strike a balance between ensuring Singaporeans that the reserves are safe and full disclosure.
Of course I am not saying that Dr Tan Cheng Bock is a perfect candidate. He could have fielded the questions on preventive detention (during the exclusive interview with TOC) better. He could have gone up to Teo Soh Lung to acknowledge her as not being a Marxist conspirator at Mr Chiam See Tong's appreciation dinner...
But of the three who have come forward, Dr Tan Cheng Bock is as good as we could get (for now), to be the Elected President.
Of course the high-fliers in the PAP are not going to come out and endorse him openly (as they have done for Dr Tony Tan), because Dr Tan Cheng Bock's "I refuse to compromise" character is something they would not be able to handle. And the opposition is not going to come out and openly support Dr Tan Cheng Bock in his bid to be the Elected President, because to them, no matter what he has done, he is still a PAP man.
Which is why it is very important for Singaporeans who think clearly, to come out and openly support, endorse and vote for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, if he gets his certificate of eligibility for the PE.
Ravi, I wonder if you could explain what you mean by that statement. Can you be more explicit?
On your point:
"queequeg, the Asian Financial Crisis was caused by global financial raiders. Singapore came out of it relatively unscathed compared to the other Asian countries because they could not speculate how much Singapore had in their reserves."
I think it is way to simplistic to speak of financial crisis being caused by some conspiracy created by global speculator. I won't go into detailed debate about why your assertion is simplistic unless you want too. All I would say at this juncture is to counter your point with an example.
During the 90s when the British financial system was under attacked and was the nation had to leave the ERM. Now question to you: the Norwegian at the same time had their financial reserved detailed openly(1) and even in more details than the British, why weren't their economy under attacked by speculators?
(1) Norway has a very liberal freedom of information act.
1. ERM implied that the pound appreciated against USD as well harmful for already struggling UK economy (unemployment rate 1992: 9.8%)
2. Speculators (like George Soros) foresaw that situation was unsustainable->shorted pound -> more downward pressure on pound
Sep 16, 1992: British government raised interest rate from 10% to 15% -> didn’t help -> Britain leaves ERM;
3. interest rates back to 12%
4. George Soros shorted $10bn and made $1.1bn
In contrast, when the international wave of currency speculation reached Norway in 1992 the central bank suspended the fixed exchange rate and later devaluate.
The state took over most of the larger commercial banks to avoid a total financial collapse.
After the suspension of the ECU and the following devaluation, Norway had growth until 1998, due to optimism, an international boom and high prices of petroleum.
The Asian financial crisis also rattled the Norwegian stock market. At the same time petroleum prices fell rapidly, due to internal problems among the OPEC countries. Which led to the krone's depreciation. Norway also abandoned the fixed exchange rate policy and adopted inflation targeting.
Along with changes in monetary policy, the center coalition government of Norway was also able to monitor a tighter fiscal policy. At the same time interest rates were high.
As result, Norway escaped the overheating process of 1993-1997.
I am afraid simply listing out the sequence of events in the currency crisis of the 1990s don't exactly proves your argument that publishing accounts of reserved will lead to global currency attack.
You speak of Norway being attacked by currency speculator. Now was it caused by the fact that they published their reserved or something more fundamental?
Oh maybe it is worth noting that the Singapore currency is somewhat restricted in the sense that foreigners can't borrow unrestricted sum outside of Singapore. And because of this currency speculator have a difficult time to getting hold of currencies to speculate?
So you see it is things are not as simple as it seemed.