Tan Jee Say, says he would do it for $1


Senior Member
7 Jun 2011
He knows what it is like to be poor, presidential candidate Tan Jee Say told the crowd. At the start of each school year when new books, shoes and clothes were needed, his mother would borrow five to ten dollars from relatives to put her nine children through school.

And in a tribute to his mother at his election rally at the Toa Payoh Stadium last night, Mr Tan showed the crowd a life-sized photograph of the two of them standing on the steps of the Istana during his Commissioning Parade in 1977.

"The photo reminds me of the long and hard journey that my mother had travelled since her days as a washerwoman," he said during a question-and-answer segment towards the end of the rally, which saw Mr Tan read answers to prepared questions posed by former deejay Petrina Kow.

"If the son of a washerwoman from Hainan Island in China can aspire to be a President one day, then I hope the future generations of young Singaporeans will also feel inspired to dream big and be President of Singapore," the investment adviser and former senior civil servant added.

In reply to Ms Kow's question about his employment record, Mr Tan said he had changed jobs three to four times over 14 years when he was in the private sector.

"It's not uncommon for people in the financial sector to move around - some even move after one year," said Mr Tan.

At Peregrine, Mr Tan said, he was behind a merger and acquisition between an Indonesian conglomerate and a major Malaysian-listed mining company worth about US$150 million (S$180 million). And at AIB Govett, a fund management company, he said that he won for them a major mandate from a sovereign wealth fund and also set up for them a syariah fund for the insurance subsidiary of a major Malaysian bank.

As for his independence, Mr Tan reiterated he was "not pushing" for any Opposition agenda nor political gain. Instead, he added, he was in the race to serve the people. He said: "The views that I have, contrary to the Government, are not the monopoly of the Opposition. Even some members of the (People's Action Party) are unhappy about the PAP."

Mr Tan, 57, identified two key causes that he would pursue as President: Help for the elderly and their caregivers; and promote volunteerism among youths.

He said his 100-year-old mother, who died in February, had mild dementia, and he understood the stress that caregivers had to go through.

Mr Tan said he would also do more to get youths to volunteer, citing the example in the United Kingdom where students would take a year off from studies to do charity work.

Asked whether he would run for the presidency if he were not paid, Mr Tan said in jest: "I would do it for one dollar, like Steve Jobs."

But "seriously", Mr Tan added, he was running to "serve the people".

TODAYonline | Singapore Votes | I would do it for $1, says Tan Jee Say