11 August 2005

The Presidential Candidate

Here is one good reason to vote for Andrew Kuan -

The PAP doesn't seem to like him. This is very important. The Elected President, after all, is supposed to act as a check on Parliament and to ensure that our national reserves are not squandered or abused. Therefore it would be a good thing if the Elected President and the ruling party do not get on well. If instead the Elected President and the PAP government were the best of friends, smiling and agreeing on everything, then one wonders whether the Elected President can really function as an effective check on the PAP government.

I do wonder why the PAP doesn't seem to like Andrew Kuan. The man was, after all, the Chief Financial Officer at Jurong Town Corporation. Can the senior people who run our GLCs not be trusted? If they cannot be trusted, then I think Singapore has a very big problem.

"Nonsense, Mr Wang, nonsense! I watch all my GLCs closely.
I have full confidence in the integrity of all their CFOs."

In the Straits Times article below, PM Lee (husband of the woman shown above) seems to be hinting that there's something adverse about Andrew Kuan's employment history. It's not like PM Lee to be so twisty-twisty and beatey-around-the-bush. I would have thought that if he had a problem with Andrew, he should come straight out and say it. That would seem more in line with PM Lee's personality. Surely PM Lee should tell the public, if he knew something about Kuan that the public should know. Instead of casting these vague aspersions. If there is something bad about Andrew's employment history, I for one would like to know it. And I would also like to know why the Jurong Town Corporation still chose to hire him and put him in such a senior position.

And what is all this ambiguous nonsense about Andrew Kuan defaming or not defaming someone? I hope that Singaporeans are more educated and perceptive now, after the SPH-NKF saga. All kinds of people get involved in defamation suits, as plaintiffs and as defendants - from the likes of villains like TT Durai, to leaders like Lee Kuan Yew, to heroes like Singapore Press Holdings. Until we actually know the real background, the fact that Andrew Kuan is said to be involved in a defamation suit means nothing.

Aug 11, 2005
Kuan gives 5-page CV to the media
He sends it after being asked about PM's calls for presidential candidates to be open
By Peh Shing Huei and Lynn Lee

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Andrew Kuan made public his full curriculum vitae yesterday, after some prompting from the media.

It all began when the former group chief financial officer of JTC Corporation held a press conference in the afternoon to deny charges that he had defamed someone.

He also then issued a copy of an e-mail he had sent to JTC chief executive officer Chong Lit Cheong. He said it was a resignation letter he submitted to the statutory board in July last year.

The letter, he told reporters, showed that what he had done while at JTC for three years should qualify him to run for president.

Among other things, he said in the e-mail letter that he had contributed to key projects, such as investing $800 million for JTC, divestment studies and financial streamlining.

At first, Mr Kuan did not comment on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call a day earlier that potential presidential candidates should be open and transparent as the job is a serious one.

Mr Lee said on Tuesday he had read that Mr Kuan had had an 'interesting employment career', and had 'done quite a number of different jobs in the last few years'.

'I'm quite sure he will want to tell Singaporeans all about them, how it came about that he took these jobs and, in some cases, changed them very quickly,' said Mr Lee.

When Mr Lee's comments were put to him, Mr Kuan said he was being honest and open - about the defamation issue.

Asked by reporters, Mr Kuan said he would try to provide his full employment details but he 'may not remember' some details.

He was then asked to provide the CV he had submitted to the JTC when he applied for his job.

He replied that he would try, adding: 'After all these years, almost 30, you can't remember all the small, little details.'

Three hours later, he sent out a five-page CV via e-mail to the media.

In an earlier interview, he provided a brief resume showing he had held five jobs between 1980 and 1989. The CV yesterday showed that it was from 1979 to 1987.

In the first four years, he worked in two chemical firms, Kaiser Cement and Betz. From 1983 to 1987, he worked in Gould, a medical product company, eye products company Bausch & Lomb, and chemical firm Foseco Minsep.

He said he had been headhunted by four of the five firms and that he was a 'young man full of dynamism at that time'.

He then set up his own consultancy and job search firm Blue Arrow. He told The Straits Times that the firm had two offices, in Tampines and the central business district.

He sold one off and closed down the other when he joined JTC in June 2001.

At Blue Arrow, he said he had placed about 300 people in various companies and positions, ranging from CEOs to executives. Some of the companies are Singapore Food Industries and Ong & Ong Architects.

Asked if he could provide a copy of JTC CEO Mr Chong's reply to his e-mail letter on his resignation, Mr Kuan declined. It contained 'confidential' company information, he said.

In the e-mail letter to Mr Chong, Mr Kuan said he was giving two-months' notice. But he later clarified that he served only one month.

After JTC, he was CFO of water treatment firm Hyflux's joint venture, Istithmar Utilities EPC, for three months this year.

He then went back to Blue Arrow, operating from his apartment at the Tanamera condominium.


singaporean said...

I am so much your fanboy, Mr Wang!

The best endorsement any candidate can get to win my vote is that the ruling elite hates him.

And you're right... if Kuan has a dubious background, how did he get the JTC job? Lowest bidder? That's a warm and cosy thought about the millions JTC has in reserve.

I'd very much prefer if JBJ or Chia Thye Poh (our very own Kim Dae Jung and Nelson Mandela) , but I will not waste my vote on a rubber stamp, no matter how healthy. (If I ever get to vote... I still dont believe it is finally happening, over ten years late)

Of course, it could be the ruling elite trying to play reverse psychology, and that Kuan is really the "Chosen One".

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

There is a significant difference between the Kerry-Bush situation and the situation in Singapore.

Imagine if we created a new powerful constitutional role specifically for the purpose of acting as a check and balance against the Prime Minister, to prevent him for ever abusing his powers.

Suppose that the Prime Minister is Lee Hsien Loong. Then suppose that the new powerful constitutional role is occupied by his dear loving wife Ho Ching.

How effective a check and balance do you think we would have?

This is what I meant when I said that it would be a good thing if the Elected President is not all lovey-dovey with the ruling party. The Elected President is meant as a safeguard against the executive arm, especially where the reserves are concerned. He isn't meant to be a friendly, cooperative pal to the executive arm.

In contrast, Kerry was not meant as a check on Bush. Theirs was an either/or situation.

On Kuan's early preparations for the presidential role -

well, this is Singapore. In other countries, the prerequisites for running for presidency are quite basic - they probably only say that you must be a citizen, and above a certain age.

Only in Singapore do you find a whole long list of criteria that you must satisfy before you can even be eligible to contest. With such a whole long list, well, of course you must start planning early if you have serious intentions to be President.

singaporean said...

Here is where I disagree with my idol. Mdm Ho will make a good Elected President, because she can actually exercise her constitutional rights, like twist the ears of the PM if she so chooses to.

If a former DPM, Head of Labour movement, fresh with the mandate of the people, could be rudely rejected from exercising what we all thought was his constitutional rights and duties, then what check and balance can we expect of any lesser individuals?

A potted plant can take the Office. I would vote for a potted plant. Costs less.

If the ruling elite is serious about having an Elected President, then empower the Office with real duties and rights, and field real candidates like Tommy Koh or Tony Tan, who can win the election by their own right and have to the stature to speak up and speak out against the PM.

Otherwise, face the reality that the only incentive for anybody has is the fat annual salary (plus pension?).

And btw, SR Nathan is no Bush. He is closer to Dan "potatoe" Quayle, who was nobody before he became the VP of the USA, and becomes nobody immediately after he got booted out, and Bush Snr picked him to be his VP precisely because nobody takes Quayle seriously.

singaporean said...

It occurred to me that there is someone perfectly suited to be the Elected President: TT Durai!


10. He definitely qualifies having managed such a massive reserve at NKF for so long.

9. There will not be a racial element if he defeats SR Nathan.

8. It will show the magnamity of Singaporeans in forgiving a sinner so quickly.

7. He can make Istana so hip that tourists will pay money to enter. Make the Istana guards swallow swords and blow fire etc, instead of just standing still all day.

6. The Istana will turn world class and interns from the Krelims and White Houses will come to the Istana to learn how we make a presidential palace so hip.

5. He will have the AG as his personal lawyer. That should exorcise some Davinderphobia.

4. He is already familiar with the concept of being miserly with the needy in the name of building up a reserve for really rainy days that last for decades. Noah would be proud of him.

3. Nobody will complain about solid gold taps and toilet bowls in the Istana.

2. He doesnt have to lie about his salary any more.

1. He can actually get some real work done at something he is very experienced at doing: running the President's Star Charity Show!