Tan Kin Lian: No need for lies, online bashing

"If you want me, take me for who I am and I will make you proud that you have made the right choice,” says Presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian. (Yahoo! photo)
"If you want me, take me for who I am and I will make you proud that you have made the right choice,” says Presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian. (Yahoo! photo)

Some take his statements and "give it the most negative twist", some have posted lies and defamed him online since he announced his Presidential bid, said former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian.

Tan, 63, also highlighted an individual who posted "several malicious statements" about him in websites, giving others a bad impression of him. He is considering legal action.

While he rebuts and corrects falsehoods where possible, Tan laments against such unfair smear campaigns -- a fear his wife had when he first wanted to enter the Presidential Election.

She does not read what's on the Internet or she would be quite worried, said Tan in an interview with Yahoo! Singapore on Wednesday.

"All my statements on the other candidates are positive. … There's no need to blow up their negative points, take their action in a most negative way. There's no need to," he stressed, adding that he tells his supports not to "bash" other potential candidates.

He called on website owners, blog owners to help correct the "lies and defamation" on their sites.

Tan, who announced his decision to contest for the Elected Presidency earlier this month, will face heavyweight Dr Tony Tan, former deputy prime minister, and former Member of Parliament Tan Cheng Bock in the contest, if all three are given the certificate of eligibility.

Does he think he is the underdog in the polls?

Yes, if the earlier statements clarifying the President's role were targeted at him.

Following Tan's comments on his plans if elected, such as starting an annual report on Singapore's reserves, several government leaders stepped forward address expectations on the Presidential role and explain its limited powers.

While they did not name the Presidential hopeful, "many people say those statements were targeted at me", said Tan.

"Am I the underdog? Yes, if you look at the statements targeted at me," he said.

Yet, Tan is no lightweight.

The founder and director software development and consultancy Tan Kin Lian & Associates was general manager/chief executive of NTUC Income for 30 years before he retired.

During his tenure, he increased the company's assets from $28 million to $17 billion.

The former People's Action Party (PAP) member and social activist was also a frequent letter writer to the newspapers to express his views on various issues, including housing and transport.

Being a voice for the people

Tan remains strong in his convictions, as he prepares for the election.

Asked if he felt intimidated coming up against Dr Tony Tan, whose entry into the race has garnered positive press and endorsements from government leaders, Tan stated firmly, "No, I'm stronger than all this."

"I stand by my values. I will still be honest, fair, positive, courageous and I understand what is public service. Those are stronger than any of these setbacks that I may have to encounter," he stated.

Tan said he offers his ability to "think independently because I'm not endorsed by the PAP either directly or indirectly".

"I'm very well connected to the people," said Tan. "I know what are the feelings of the people, their aspirations and I will bring this to the government, if I'm elected."

He cites, the concerns of high cost of living and housing costs. Foreign workers also cause problems, say, by suppressing wages, he noted.

Other concerns he would address include "minimising the disadvantage" local men face when they serve National Service. In some countries, national service is only nine months, or foreign workers who skip national service pay tax to those who do, he pointed out.

Added Tan, "I hope to be able to play a role to help the people and the government. Get people to be united, understand the problem and say, "Let's work together"."

Having pledged at least half the Presidential salary to charity, Tan wants to encourage those who are able to, to also donate to the less fortunate.

"Then people will say we have a government that really cares for us. We have a President that really cares for us. And I think that will be the first step to rebuilding the people's trust in the government."

The Presidential hopeful recently revealed challenges in raising money for his campaign.

Compared to Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who had announced "strong support" and no problems with funding, Tan has had difficulties reaching his "modest budget" of $100,000 to $200,000.

Tan, who believes Singaporeans are just waiting for others to donate, views the fundraising as an indicator of Singaporeans' "commitment" to change.

He urged, "If you want to make a change you must be prepared to step forward with your time, with your money and with your commitment."

If he cannot raise the funds, Tan will use his money for the campaign. "But it will be quite discouraging for me if this is the outcome," he admitted.

Tan, who had been elected chairman of the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation from 1992 to 1997, said, "They find me acceptable, they elect me for who I am."

"It's the same for Singapore. … If you want me, take me for who I am and I will make you proud that you have made the right choice."

Hear what Tan has to say on why he joined the contest and how he can contribute as President.

Follow Yahoo! News on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.