Singaporeans want a President they can trust, believes Presidential hopeful Tan Cheng Bock.
And if he is elected as Singapore's seventh President, Dr Tan will tap on this trust to unify the people of this country, he stated at a press conference on Friday afternoon after submitting his Certificate of Eligibility forms at the Elections Department.
"Trust needs to be earned, especially for the office of the President, who is the only Singaporean leader voted by all Singaporeans," said Dr Tan, who believes he fulfills the criteria to be a candidate for the upcoming polls.
While the 71-year-old stopped short of revealing his campaign details — as he is not yet a confirmed candidate — he gave hints on the type of President he would be.
He would, for instance, not interfere in issues such as transportation policy or how Singapore's sovereign wealth funds run their companies, but focus on the "processes and procedures" on-going within organisations.
"The President must be above all these issues but that does not preclude me from holding private discussions with ministers," he explained. "Although I'm not able to initiate change on the issues, but at least I'm able to make my two cents worth to the minister or chief about the policies."
"We are not there to rock the boat. We're there to make the whole country happy," said Dr Tan.
Having studied the Constitution, Dr Tan said he knows "exactly my boundaries" but is quick to add that "that does not mean the President is going to be caged".
"Many of you think that the President is so caged and can't do anything, but it's not true. The President has very important functions and roles," he stressed.
Yet will Dr Tan as President be able to step away from his past as a member of the ruling People's Action Party?
The former Ayer Rajah Member of Parliament credited the PAP for developing him "to where he is today" but reiterated his ability to function independently of the PAP government.
"If Singaporeans look deeper into my past Parliamentary debates, I hope they see a man who will stand up for what he believes is the right thing to do," he said, citing how he stood up against the foreign talent policy in the late 1990s because Singaporeans were fearing for their jobs.
For that, he was publicly scolded by then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Noted Dr Tan, "If the people do not believe that they can trust me, or that I am not independent enough, I think I will have a difficult job."
Dr Tan is one of three Presidential candidate hopefuls who have submitted their applications for the COE. He said his forms were "well-received".
The other two who have handed in their eligibility forms are former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tony Tan and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian.
Upon receiving news that Dr Tan had submitted his papers, Tan Kin Lian told Yahoo! Singapore he was glad, and is looking forward to a dignified contest.
Before Dr Tan Cheng Bock turned up at the Elections Department, many of his supporters had already gathered outside the building, with some signing a poster of Dr Tan in a show of encouragement.
One of them, Simon Tan, 48, a treasurer for Jurong Country Club said, "I'm exhilarated that he has handed in the forms, I'm looking forward to hearing his plans for Singapore."