No pledge to donate pay because…

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the following reports on presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock:

– 13 Aug 2011, “No pledge to donate pay because…”
– 14 Aug 2011, “Tan Cheng Bock to champion football for national unity”.

Dr Tan feels that promising to take a pay cut in return for our votes is a form of vote buying. What monetary benefit would voters get in return for Dr Tan donating his pay to charity? If there can be no monetary benefits to be derived from such a promise, how can it be a form of vote buying? A promise to donate pay is very different from a promise for HDB upgrading. In the former case, voters derive no tangible benefits whatsoever. In the latter case, the tangible benefits are clear and unambiguous.

Nevertheless, Dr Tan may feel that anything that is done in return for our votes can be considered a form of vote buying. In that case, Dr Tan’s promise to champion football for national unity would, in the same token, be considered a form of vote buying too. Going by Dr Tan’s ‘principles’, candidates must not promise to do anything to win voters’ hearts. That would be very strange indeed.

I have no doubts that Dr Tan is championing football for national unity because he believes it is the right thing to do, not because it will win him votes. Similarly, I have no doubts that Mr Tan Kin Lian and Mr Tan Jee Say are championing for presidential salaries to be donated away because they feel it is the right thing to do, not because it will win them votes.

Finally, by saying that the presidential salary issue is in the hands of the salary review committee and that the electorate’s unhappiness would be taken into consideration, Dr Tan is giving us the impression that this matter is not important to him. Not important enough for him to specifically do something about it. On the other hand, Mr Tan Kin Lian’s and Mr Tan Jee Say’s pledge to donate the bulk of their presidential salaries shows that they understand that this matter is important to the people and regardless of what the salary review committee decides, they will give Singaporeans the answer that we want.

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