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The scandal of Tony Tan, Singapore presidential candidate « Getting at the truth

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The scandal of Tony Tan, Singapore presidential candidate

Tony Tan

Tony Tan

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.

Daddy's boy, Patrick Tan

Daddy's boy, Patrick Tan

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.

45 comments to The scandal of Tony Tan, Singapore presidential candidate

  • Roy Lee

    Why the HELL does a minister’s son need scholarships? Isn’t what TT is making from the blood n sweat of common Singaporeans enough for the MIW?!There r thousands of average n low income household students out there who can’t pursue their dreams coz of the lack of funds n here there r GREEDY n CHEAP ministers swallowing the public’s funds for their own! CHEAP BAS TARDS! FEEL LIKE SLAPPING TT’s FACE SILLY! PUT PATRICK TAN N HIS FATHER IN PRISON FOR CHEATING….CHEATING THE NATION….AWOL CHARGE FOR PATRICK n CONSPIRING n AIDING the AWOL CHARGE FOR TT!!

  • JeffGoh

    Squeaky clean Spore squeaks under the carpet. TT is not only a bad role model for Patrick Tan and his other children; he has also abused the trust of his Boss and Singaporeans.

    Despite all the propaganda to paint him whiter than white, he is already tainted in Spore’s history.

    “You measure us by every single yardstick of governance and you’ll find…rule of law, transparency, integrity of the system, efficiency of the civil service, confidence domestically and internationally” – Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mentor, 2007

  • lan jiao beng

    whiter than white…超级白!

  • Sean

    the 10-letter starting with ‘C’… anyone?

  • kash

    My friends, you need to do your first degree BEFORE you can do medicine in Harvard. So that explains one (very tiny) part of the story.

  • Spaceboy

    If all the mention above is true, then all Singaporean son had or soon be wasting 2 years of their live servicing an unfair national service.

  • 'Mat

    Given Phony Tony’s dirty deals it wold be a travesty of everything decent if he ever becomes the President. Vote Phony Tony OUT !!!

  • Facts of life

    John Harding is well entertained
    in this post.
    Good to see many fellow Singaporeans
    Wish You will write more about Sin.

  • admin

    I like that – “Sin” for Singapore.

  • Unjustified

    So disgusted upon seeing the news!!! Why does rich people likes to do such a thing?? Dont they realise the truth will surface one day??? He is certainly not fit to be our President…

  • thisisjustaunjustifiedrumor

    this is bullshit

  • According to a tip-off we received from a SPH insider, Tony Tan and his family bought three units of Sky@eleven condominium before they were officially launched in 2007. Sky@eleven is a freehold luxury development by Times Development, the property arm of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH). Located at Thomson Lane, off Thomson Road, the 43-storey high Sky@eleven is the tallest development in the area. One major selling point of Sky@eleven was its attractive pricing, averaging at $975 psf. The highest price recorded was $1,200 psf.

    In 2007, SPH sold out all of 273 units of Sky@eleven condo within 30 hours of its soft launch on the evening of Sunday, 28 January, even before the public launch which was scheduled for this weekend.

    In a statement released to the media, then SPH Chairman and Director Dr Tony Tan said: “We are extremely happy with the overwhelming response and at the same time very grateful to the buyers for their support for our exclusive development.”

    However Dr Tony Tan did not reveal that his eldest son and daughter-in-law as well as a company partly owned by him and his immediate family had bought 3 units of Sky@eleven before its soft launch.

    Below are the pre-sale options some directors asked for and obtained, as declared by SPH to its shareholders, but not reported in the press.

    The Directors of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (“SPH” or the “Company”) wish to announce that the Board has approved the proposed sale of units (the “Units”) in the residential development known as Sky@eleven to the following persons who are interested persons of SPH pursuant to Chapter 9 of the Listing Manual of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (the “Purchaser”):

    Tan Boon Huan, Peter, son of Tony Tan Keng Yam and Tan Yew Mei, daughter-in-law of Tony Tan Keng Yam
    # 39-09

    Bee Kiang (Private) Limited, a company in which Tony Tan Keng Yam and his immediate family have an interest of 30% or more.
    # 41-01

    Bee Kiang (Private) Limited, a company in which Tony Tan Keng Yam and his immediate family have an interest of 30% or more.

    The prices of Sky@eleven have almost doubled since it was launched in 2007. Based on the latest transactions with caveats lodged from URA, Sky@eleven are now selling at between $1,500 – $1,600 psf. (read more here)

    After he retired from politics in 2006, Dr Tony Tan was appointed as Chairman of SPH by the PAP regime.

    Dr Tony Tan and his family would not be able to obtain the pre-sale options to purchase exclusive units of Sky@eleven before its soft launch if he were not a director of SPH.

    Since he is running for the presidency now, Dr Tony Tan should come clean with Singaporeans and revealed the identities of his other family members who have bought the two units of Sky@eleven under his company Bee Kiang (Private) Limited.

  • Wan

    Omg!! Pls chk the rest too! Heard TCH son also got scholarship!!

  • UseSomeSense

    Roy, you are obviously not smart enough to know the difference between a bursary and a scholarship (or qualify for either), so let me explain. The former is for students with financial needs. The latter is an exchange between the student and the sponsor, where the sponsor agrees to pay for the student’s fees+more and the student agrees to return to work for the sponsor. Hence, it is in the best interest of the sponsor to select the MOST QUALIFIED candidate, regardless of financial need.

    JH: It is common for directors of companies to receive benefits for their services. Why is it so surprising that he bought units in Sky Eleven and got discounts for them? What does he need to “come clean” about? That information, while not published in the press, was information in the public domain. Are you saying that because he is running for presidency now, it was wrong for him to LEGALLY receive benefits from his previous employer? JH, I have no idea who you are but I don’t believe you are a fool. Stop publishing like one.

    • admin

      I am no fool, but you are highly suspect for misrepresenting the facts regarding your greedy hero, Tony Tan.

      Apparently, you were not yet born when the the “Nassim Jade Scandal” broke, involving Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his family. I was working at Singapore’s Inland Revenue at the time, and was well aware of the facts. The only difference was that I knew the names of the guilty before the “Nassim Jade Scandal” hit Singapore.

      Why do you defend Tony Tan for doing the exact same thing as Lee Kuan Yew did with the Nassim Jade Scandal with SPH? Hmmm…

      Let me refresh your “memory.”

      When the “pre-launch” secret purchases of Nassim Jade units by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yeo, his son, Deputy Prime Minister Lee and members of their family became known publicly it was widely criticized in Singapore and became a national disgrace and scandal.

      The situation was so bad that Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong directed that these purchases be investigated by Finance Minister, Richard Hu, and the Deputy Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Koh Beng Seng.

      As a result, Lee Kuan Yew’s brother Lee Suan Yew and his company, HPL, were censored for this action.

      Here are the facts:

      Sometime between April and early May of 1995, Hotel Property Limited (“HPL”) of which Lee Suan Yew was a director offered units at its property project known as Nassim Jade to “close business associates” for sale before its official launch for sale to the public.

      There were two condominium projects in question, Nassim Jade and Scotts 28. Both projects consisted of condominium apartments valued at millions of dollars per unit before the property slump.

      The investigation revealed that not only had Lee Kuan Yew, his brother and his son purchased these apartments, they were offered substantial discounts to boot.

      The apartments were due to be put on sale on the open market on April 27 1995. Three days before the official launch, HPL conducted a “soft launch” where a select group of potential customers were invited to have first go at the apartments. This was not exactly an unheard of practice amongst property developers. The problem was that because HPL was a publicly listed company, it had shareholders to account to. Rules under the SES Manual Listing stated that approval had to be sought for transactions involving “connected persons” of the company involved and those persons’ associates. HPL did not seek the permission of its shareholders and Lee Suan Yew, Lee’s brother, was a director of the company.

      At the soft launch, Lee Kuan Yew’s wife, Kwa Geok Choo, chose an apartment to buy. She was quoted a price of $3,578,260 (or $1,583 per square foot) for the apartment. This was a seven percent discount on the list price.

      Later, Kwa Geok Choo contacted her son, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and told him of the Nassim Jade apartments upon which he called his Aunty Pamelia Lee, wife of Uncle Suan Yew, and said that he and his wife, Ho Ching, wanted to get in on the deal as well. Aunty Pamelia then later came back to her nephew and offered him an apartment for $3,645,100 a discount of 12 per cent or $437,412 on the asking price. The Deputy Prime Minister accepted his Auntie’s offer.

      This was not all. On the Scotts 28 condominiums, similar offers and purchases were made. Greedy Lee Kuan Yew and son bought two more units and paid $2,791,500 and $2,776,400 respectively for them, each bagging a five percent discount.

      All in all, Lee Kuan Yew received from HPL a total of $416,252 whilst Lee Junior got $643,185 in discounts. All the purchases amounted to more than $10 million and were carried out without mortgages and loans.

      It was also found out that Lee Kuan Yew’s entire family was in on the purchases. Daughter Lee Wei Ling, a medical doctor in a government hospital; sister Lee Kim Mon; and his two other brothers Freddy and Dennis; Kwa Kim Li, a niece of Lee; and Gloria Lee, Lee’s sister in law, all bought the condos at hefty discounts. Daughter Wei Ling bought two apartments at Nassim Jade and was reported to have sold one off for a tidy profit. Again, all these transactions were carried out without the approval of the shareholders of HPL.

      The entire Lee family got in on the bonanza!

      It must be remembered that all this while, decisions of sales and the discounts were carried out secretly at the directors’ level by Lee Suan Yew. None of the shareholders nor the SES had the slightest idea of what was going on and neither did the Singapore public.

      Thank you, Dear Commenter, for giving me the opportunity of bringing this scandal back into the picture.

      It was a national disgrace for Singapore.

      • UseSomeSense

        The circumstances of these 2 cases are totally different. Tony Tan was a director of the company that gave him benefits and this information WAS RELEASED TO SHAREHOLDERS. Why you bring this up and its relevance to the presidential elections is truly beyond me.

    • Roy

      Usesomesense, maybe u shud remove ur face from the PAP’s A S S first before u comment. I know what the difference between a scholarship n a bursary is. And apparently ur not (I’m not sure if u know how to read this next word) INTELLIGENT enuf to understand that there were n there R more qualified n deserving people out there for the scholarships then those spastic ministers sons or daughters. Have a good weekend dimwit. .

      • UseSomeSense

        I love seeing people like you realize they were wrong and change tack in what they say. Good luck with your life.

        • Dog Trainer

          UseSomeSense, you are a PAP DOG.

          So many scholarships have been hijacked by children of PAP Ministers. They are shameless and you defend them enthusiastically. Only a DOG will do this for its master.

          I recommend that your Master castrate you to keep you focus on serving them; and not on other bitches.

      • Dave

        Roy and dog trainer: wow seems that people are getting rude here. My oh my, did your parents teach you manners?

  • zhan

    Please, I received a scholarship. My parents are not poor, they are a doctor and financier, though I did not expect to receive their money to go to university, certainly not abroad. I worked my butt off to get the funds and grades to qualify and I have worked my butt off since, in an organization for 6 mandated years of service. Bursaries are for students with financial needs. Scholarships should and are always based on merit, not need. The interest of your sponsoring organization is to find the person most qualified for the job and not the poorest student in town.

    Also, on Sky11, this was all in the press at the time, all the senior staff at SPH and their families were given discounts to purchase because the land was the former SPH building, owned by the company. Directors from SPH were literally flipping their queue number for $50k to the public. At least TT bought and kept it for himself, if his family wants to live together there, is it any business of yours, except that you’re envious you don’t have such opportunities? SPH made a tidy profit from the whole real estate venture and their shareholders were very happy with the special dividend they gave out. I should know, I’m an SPH shareholder and I live in Sky11, which I bought off one of those directors who traded his queue number.

  • space c

    Where’s Sky11? Anyone know?

  • ah beng

    terrible lah! —the pap people all make the rules. They take whatever they want. very soon, Sin will have FTs and PaP people only.

  • Sin Chee Kharn

    most wealthy bz man n politicians like their children to have scholarships n u may be amazed many actually got it. Why? it not for the money cos they can afford anything but the credentials in their children’s future career and political advancement. just dat simple…

  • SpiderMonkey

    I’ve heard that PAP supporters are going round old folks homes to offer $46 each for voting for TT, that’s a reliable source.

  • Do U Know

    $46? At the last GE in May, every voter was bribed with abt $1,000 each. I took my 1k but voted for harpeet Singh of the Oppo and not teo chee hean of pap. Thousands of others had to show their gratitude and voted PAP and that’s how PAP got their 60%. I believe that without these bribes PAP could have lost the GE.
    Don’t you know the PAP and its adherents are all above the law?

    The mistake they made at this PE was not to bribe every voter with another large amount say $500……TT got good chance if they did.

    • admin

      They not only bribed to get Tony Tan elected it looks like they may have destroyed valid ballots.

      Tony Tan ended up with 744,397 vs Tan Cheng Bock 737,128 … 37,826 ballots were rejected. I think Singapore needs U.N. inspectors to make sure that the ballots were rejected properly.

      Also, there were 2,153,040 who voted, which means that Tony Tan only got 35% of the vote. Shouldn’t there be a run-off election? The whole thing looks plenty fishy to me

  • kk

    Since TT and TCB have votes that are so close, I feel that we shld re-elect again. For only the 2 of them

    • admin

      Yes, I think in most countries they would have a run-off election. How can someone be in office elected by only 35% of the voters?

      • erlkonig


        Just an aside: Someone in a *similar situation is Barack Obama, who became president of the US of A with 33.33% of the votes of all eligible voters.

        • admin

          Well, not sure about the 33.33% for Obama in the last election, but that is where he is headed. That is, IF he even gets the nomination. Watch out for Hillary! You heard it here.

          • erlkonig

            Hillary? Carney played it down when a reporter popped the question. Hillary and Obama appeals to the same segment of the Democratic Party, and their policy positions largely overlap as well. It’d be interesting if a challenge comes from the true left, analogous to how Perry/Bachmann crazed it up for center-right players like Romney and Huntsman.

            Here’s where I got my 33.33% figure from:

            Obama got 52.92% of the votes cast, out of an estimated eligible voter turnout of 63.00%, giving him 33.33% of the votes of all eligible voters.

            * Of course, there are other differences such as it not being mandatory to vote in the US of A… and stuff.

  • Disgusted

    The PAP used the whole machinery including the mass media Clan Association, Trade Unions, Chamber of Commerce etc.. To support TT.

    And TT won??? with 35 percent,…. more like ‘won by rigged’
    Do you call that a great victory.?

  • Dave

    I’m sorry to say that but all of you complain and criticize but never direct it to the government. From my previous posts, I’m sure you know that I am pro-PAP, but nonetheless, some of yours views are correct so I don’t understand why?

    And I hope no rude fellas reply to this because it seems that some users here are crude and very rude.

    Thank you and have a nice day!

  • ImamMahdi

    Singapore Ministry of Defence’s failure to release details of Patrick Tan’s NS records shows a lack of accountability in view of the deep disquiet the scandal has caused. I doubt NS men will fight for Singapore if Mindef continues to turn a deaf ear to cries for accountability.

  • singaporeguards

    The scandal regarding Patrick Tan’s NS deferment and other allegations should be probed. Unfortunately, The Shit Times’ journalists have, as expected, found no interest in writing an investigative piece on the matter. We know the nature of journalism in Singapore under the PAP – purely government hacks!