Singapore Presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian promised to influence policies if elected is unrealistic and misleading, say analysts. The former chief executive of NTUC Income had run for the 2011 election, and is now vying for the election next month.
Felix Tan, a political analyst at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), pointed out that Singapore’s President does not shape policies, and in fact has limited influence on policy making. “Tan’s aim is unrealistic and misleading. That is not the role of the President. They do not guide policies, to begin with. That’s the role of the government today.”
Lian says he will work collaboratively with the government and influence policies if elected, and use the President’s veto powers to ensure that government policies align with his vision and goals. He highlighted that he does not intend to be an adversary to the government.
“I plan to collaborate with them, engage in discussions and meetings with government ministers, and share my insights and proposals for alternative approaches. By establishing a positive and constructive relationship, I can influence their decision-making processes.”
However, Mustafa Izzuddin, a senior international affairs analyst, said the President does not make or shape policy. He added that Tan may be elucidating that he wants to be a more outspoken and activist President, but still have a constructive rather than disruptive working relationship with the government.”
According to the Singapore Constitution, the President is empowered to veto government budgets and key public appointments if there are reasons to do so. The Council of Presidential Advisers assist the President in decision-making. The Prime Minister is the head of the Government and controls it with the Cabinet, which is responsible for scrutinizing and passing legislation.
The President only acts on the Cabinet’s advice in exercising his functions. He must be politically neutral, and must not be involved in any political or controversial issues. The Singapore President has custodial power, and no executive powers. They don’t have a role to advance their own policy agenda.