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Bye bye, Tan Kin Lian?

Bye bye, Tan Kin Lian?

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Why Singapore presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian isn’t an automatic shoo-in.

By Belmont Lay

NTUC not company meh?

TAN Kin Lian might, after all, not be eligible to be president of Singapore based on a technicality.

Here’s why: Tan was the CEO of NTUC Income, a “co-operative insurance society” registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, which although strives for “commercial leadership” in its “business“, is actually structured differently from a company registered under the Companies Act.

So, in English, this means that Tan was NOT AND NEVER WAS the CEO of a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act.

And if you check out the Singapore Elections Department list of Qualifications for Candidates seeking to become president, it is stated in no uncertain terms that one of the essential criteria for presidential aspirants is that they must have served as CEO (or as chairman of the board of directors) of a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act.

Still not convinced? Here’s more.

When you google “Tan Kin Lian”, you will most likely find displayed among the top three results, his Wikipedia entry.

In his entry, it is stated that Tan is the “former CEO of NTUC Income”.

Next, follow the NTUC Income link at the footnote and you’ll arrive at its official website and click on its About Us page where it is stated in black and white that “NTUC Income, a co-operative insurance society formed in 1970″, was initiated by Goh Keng Swee (bless his soul).

So are we really splitting hairs when we try to make heads or tails of a co-operative and a company?

Sure as hell!

Therefore, to dig further, simply google “co-operative vs company singapore” because you want to find out what’s the difference between them and you will most likely find your query answered by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation’s FAQ page, which should be displayed as one of the top three results.

In it, transmitted through the ones-and-noughts of the supreme Internet, are three ways a co-operative is different from a company.

Primo: Voting in a co-operative is determined by one-member-one-vote policy but voting in a company is determined by type and number of shares held. (Think Singapore Press Holdings where there exists ordinary shares for mortals and not-so-ordinary-200-times-voting-power management shares if you’re part of the potentate.)

Secundo: A co-operative is an association of members while a company is an association of capital (an association I actually find damn sexy).

Tertio: The objective of a co-operative is to serve members’ needs while a company is to maximise profits for its shareholders. (Think SPH again!)

And to bludgeon the nail and seal the lid on the coffin, do spend four seconds to read the PDF document stating the by-laws of NTUC Income.

It states in page one that NTUC Income is registered under the Co-operative Societies Act.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: I stated before that Tan Cheng Bock must be bonkers if he honestly (or rather naively) thinks that his take on the 1987 so-called Marxist conspiracy can be buried and hidden from public scrutiny.

Sure, Tan Kin Lian might have been CEO for 30 years with a business that manages capital of $20 billion and beyond, but I just hope he will not join the club for the bonkers if he thinks that the Presidential Elections Committee will lay the red carpet out for him.

Because I hate false hope. Likewise for the multitudes out there who are counting on him.

Editor’s note:

This article was edited on July 5, at 5.25pm after it was first published for the following reason:

While Tan Kin Lian isn’t the CEO of a company, he may still qualify on the basis that he is “in any other similar or comparable position of seniority and responsibility in any other organization or department of equivalent size or complexity in the public or private sector which, in the opinion of the Presidential Elections Committee, has given him such experience and ability in administering and managing financial affairs as to enable him to carry out effectively the functions and duties of the office of President.”

We thank Wong Chun Han for pointing this out.

What this means is that whether Tan Kin Lian contests is still the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee. It’s no longer obvious that he will stand for elections.