Tony Tan has seen better days.
In the late 1980s, he was Lee Kuan Yew’s first choice to succeed him as Prime Minister of Singapore, but Tan declined.
Until July 1, 2011, he was Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (where he lost money), and Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (where he controlled Singapore’s press).
When Tony Tan delivered his two-minute Presidential Nomination Day speech on August 17th, the crowd jeered as he spoke. The hecklers chanted “Patrick Tan, Patrick Tan.”
Tony Tan’s decision to run for Singapore’s presidency has brought to light a scandal.
Tony Tan’s son, Patrick Tan, had just been exposed for an unprecedented 12-year leave from Singapore’s compulsory two-year military duty called National Service. Even worse, this happened while his father was Singapore’s Minister of Defense.
Patrick Tan served for only seven months as a trainee at the Basic Military Training Centre and Officer Cadet School before being granted a 12-year leave, ostensibly to study medicine at Harvard. His leave was much longer than what was normally granted, and medicine was not what he studied.
Upon his return to Singapore after his leave, Patrick Tan was “officially” given a cushy assignment as a Defense Medical Scientist doing lab work. However, researchers at the lab where Patrick Tan was supposed to have worked had never come across Patrick Tan or any National Service person working there.
According to a few ex-Singapore Armed Force officers it is likely that the research position was created specially for Patrick Tan upon his return from the United States to ensure that he did not have to complete the rugged combat training like others in Singapore’s National Service.
Why was Patrick Tan was so special that he was granted an unusually long leave from National Service, and then given a cushy job that does not even normally even exist?
The explanation is that his father, Tony Tan was, at the time, Singapore’s Minister of Defense and controlled Singapore’s military.
It gets even better (or worse for Tony Tan).
In addition to his extended leave from National Service, Patrick Tan was awarded a prized President’s Scholarship and a Loke Cheng Kim Scholarship to study medicine in the United States, (Source: Channel News Asia, 30 July 2011).
Here, the Singapore press was wrong (again) as Patrick Tan was not studying medicine but only pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard.
These Singapore awards included funds for his education-funds he didn’t need as his father was one of Singapore’s million dollar ministers.
Yes, Singapore Cabinet Ministers command million dollar annual salaries and million dollar annual pensions.
Now it has been revealed that Patrick Tan’s official position during his National Service was only that of Chief Clerk in charge of administrative matters during in-camp training.
In a desperate attempt at damage control, on July 28, 2011, the Office of Tony Tan issued a clarification on Facebook (of all places) claiming that Patrick Tan has fulfilled all requirements of in-camp training by writing, “Throughout his National Service, he received a National Service man’s salary and fulfilled all requirements of National Service”
Two days later, Singapore’s Ministry of Defense parroted Tony Tan releasing a “clarification” stating, “Dr Patrick Tan received an NSman’s salary and fulfilled all requirements of NS, such as the Individual Physical Proficiency Test.”
So did Dr Patrick Tan fulfill his National Service, including his reserve duties?
According to sources, Patrick Tan did not serve his reservist duties as a ‘defense medical scientist’ nor even as Chief Clerk. Nor did he even have to complete his full period of reserve duties. The National Service requires men to serve as reservists until they reach the age of forty—not so for Patrick Tan.
Instead, Patrick Tan was “promoted” straight into the Ministry of Defense Reserve which consists of National Service men who have completed their training cycle but have yet to reach the statutory age of forty years. Patrick Tan apparently had an early out, even from his reserve duties.
Most likely, no one would have ever known about Patrick Tan’s preferential National Service treatment had his Daddy, Tony Tan, not decided to run for President of Singapore.
For some people, a million dollars a year is just not enough.