WANTS OPEN LINE OF COMMUNICATION
Mr Tan also said on Wednesday that it would be a “very good arrangement” for the President to meet with the Prime Minister as well as other ministers regularly.
“If (the arrangement is) not there, I would invite them. But if it’s already there, it will be quite a good arrangement because we’re carrying on something that’s going on quite well,” said Mr Tan.
According to explanatory material on the role of the President shared by the Elections Department (ELD) on Tuesday, the Cabinet has the “general direction and control of the government”. It also highlighted that the President cannot express public views on legislation or government policy without being advised to do so by the government.
ELD also said on Tuesday that candidates have made a statutory declaration that they have read this explanatory material.
The material also highlights that the President can also represent Singapore internationally in accordance with the foreign policy and advice of the government but he cannot pursue a different foreign policy from the government.
When asked how he would represent Singapore on an international stage, Mr Tan said the “politician (who) decides international foreign policy is the finance minister and the Prime Minister”, and that the President “should not interfere”.
“A President is not a politician,” he said. “The interest of Singapore is to promote international cooperation, international trade, international peace and to be friendly with neighbouring countries with the major powers, and with all other countries that are important to Singapore.
“I have every confidence I know what the priorities are as the President to represent Singapore internationally.”
WANTS POWER TO SET INVESTMENT POLICY FOR SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUNDS
Mr Tan also said that he wants the President’s role to include the power to set the investment policy for the country’s sovereign wealth funds, saying that this is a “fundamental duty”. However, he also said that he is aware that this is not under the purview of the President.
“If I’m in charge, I will want to make sure the investment policies of the past reserves are carried out prudently and properly,” he said. “They may be different from what is being done now. But it is a separate method.”
Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), told TODAY that Mr Tan will not be able to do so should he be elected as he does not have the constitutional powers to do so.
While he can make recommendations on policy, “at the end of the day, it is up to the Cabinet, the government of the day, to decide”, said Dr Tan, adding that the President cannot overturn the constitution.
SMU’S Assoc Prof Tan added that while a President may attempt to offer his opinions, there is no legal obligation or moral duty to receive or accept these views.
“In fact, the sovereign wealth funds can ignore any request by the President seeking to offer his views on the sovereign wealth funds’ investment policies,” he said in comments provided to TODAY.
On Wednesday, Mr Tan also declined to comment on questions about his “pretty girls” social media posts.
The topic has been at the forefront after a TikTok video showing several posts went viral over the weekend.
Before filing his nomination on Tuesday, Mr Tan released a statement claiming that he was the target of a “smear campaign” over the posts.
However, checks by CNA on Wednesday showed that the statement has been removed both from Mr Tan’s website and Facebook page.
A post on the social media platform from Tuesday morning where Mr Tan said he “totally” rejects AWARE’s claims that he “objectified” women has also been taken down.
Mr Tan declined to comment on CNA’s queries on why the statement and posts were taken down.
Additional reporting by Loraine Lee.