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Tony Tan Keng Yam is elected president of Singapore 27th Aug 2011

Tony Tan Keng Yam was elected the seventh president of the Republic of Singapore on 27 August 2011. He succeeded S R Nathan who had announced on 1 July the previous month that he would not be seeking a third term as president.[1]

Before entering politics in 1979, Tan was a lecturer with the University of Singapore from 1964 to 1969 before embarking on a career in banking with the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) from 1969 to 1979. Thereafter, Tan was elected as the member of parliament (MP) for Sembawang constituency in 1979, and was appointed Senior Minister of State for Education that same year. He then held concurrent appointments as Minister for Finance and Minister for Trade and Industry from October 1989 to January 1985, before becoming Minister for Education from January 1985 to December 1991. In December 1991, Tan left the public service and was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of OCBC. He rejoined the public service in August 1995 and became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. In August 2003, Tan was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Defence. In September 2005, Tan retired from the government and went on to hold chairmanships and directorships in various companies, including the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Private Limited (GIC), National Research Foundation and the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).[2] In July 2011, Tan stepped down from his positions at the GIC and SPH to contest the 2011 presidential election that was held on 27 August.[3]

The presidential election was a four-person contest between Tan and three other candidates:[4] Tan Cheng Bock, former People’s Action Party (PAP) MP for the Ayer Rajah constituency;[5] Tan Kin Lian, former NTUC Income chief executive officer and former PAP branch secretary for Marine Parade;[6] and Tan Jee Say, a former civil servant and a former member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).[7] During the run-up to polling day, the interpretation of the custodian role of the president was the main highlight of the presidential campaign as some of the candidates argued that the president should adopt a more active role in politics.[8] Tan won the election after garnering 35.19 percent of the vote, just 7,269 votes ahead of Tan Cheng Bock. He was sworn in as president on 1 September 2011.[9]

1. Li, X. Y. (2011, August 28). Tony Tan is president. The Straits Times; Toh, E. (2011, July 2). Presidential election; ‘I won’t seek 3rd term’. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
2. President’s Office. (2013, June 10). Biography of the president. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from the Istana website: http://www.istana.gov.sg/content/istana/thepresident/biography.html
3. Zakir Hussain. (2011, June 24). Tony Tan to run for president. The Straits Times; PE Four-cornered fight for presidential race. (2011, August 17). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.
4. Channel NewsAsia, 17 Aug 2011.
5. Chang, R. (2011, August 22). Presidential election: On the campaign trail; warm homecoming at Ayer Rajah for ex-MP. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
6. Tan Kin Lian to run for president. (2011, June 7). Channel NewsAsia; Tans battle it out in cyberspace. (2011, August 17). News Straits Times, Retreived February 28, 2014, from AsiaOne website: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110817-294827.html
7. Tan Jee Say to contest presidential election. (2011, July 15). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.
8. Focus on the president’s true role: Tony Tan. (2011, August 19). Today. Retrieved from Factiva.
9. The Straits Times, 28 Aug 2011; Leong, W. K. (2011, September 2). Dr Tony Tan sworn in as president. Today. Retrieved from Factiva.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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