Malay Chamber of Commerce endorses Tony Tan

Faris Mokhtar

Dr Tan also underscored the importance of education to the Malay-Muslim community, as many of its students have progressed to higher education. (Yahoo! photo/ Faris Mokhtar)

The Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) is the latest trade body to express support for presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan.

The former deputy prime minister is the "right person" for the job, said SMCCI president Abdul Rohim Sarip, 48.

Abdul Rohim said it was a close to unanimous decision by the 12-member executive committee. He declined to reveal reasons on why some did not want to endorse Dr Tan but said it was not because they were rooting for other candidates.

Making the announcement at an event which saw Dr Tan, the guest of honor, breaking fast with some business leaders in the Malay-Muslim community, Abdul Rohim said Dr Tan's experience in the public and private sector makes him a "very qualified person to hold the position of a president".

Since the SMCCI is an important part of the Malay Muslim community, it is very encouraging that the community "welcomes" his candidacy, Dr Tan told reporters.

"I've always had a very close relationship with all the organisations, (and have) taken a particular interest in the Malay-Muslim community. They have made so much progress," he said, reiterating that the community is a pillar of Singapore's society.

So far, Dr Tan has received the most endorsements compared to the other three candidates, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say. His supporters include The Federation of Tan Clan Associations, hospitality and education unions.

Dr Tan underscored the importance of education to the Malay-Muslim community, saying he is heartened by the progress of its students. More are pursuing their studies in the ITEs, polytechnics and universities.

"I think that this progress will continue, we have to give every opportunity to Malay-Muslim students to upgrade themselves," he said.

If elected, Dr Tan said he will make social harmony and community bonding one of his key priorities.

"To me that is very important because we live in a unique multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural society, peacefully.

"If you look at the countries around us, this is something which doesn't come about by chance. We have to act on it all the time and if I am elected as a president, this will be one of my priorities to foster social harmony and community bonding."

He welcomed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement at the National Day Rally last Sunday of a review of the Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy (TTFS), managed by local Malay self-help group Mendaki.

This income criterion has not changed since the scheme was first implemented some 20 years ago.

Currently, a tertiary student will receive full subsidy if his or her monthly family income is less than S$2,000, while families with income between S$2,000 and S$3,000 monthly will get 70 per cent subsidy.