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Singaporeans will vote for Tan, but which one?

By Liz Neisloss, CNN
Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say greets supporters during Nomination Day on August 17 ahead of the election.
Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say greets supporters during Nomination Day on August 17 ahead of the election.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Singapore's presidential election is August 27
  • The presidential election is the most contested in Singapore's history
  • The president can veto key government positions and tap the government's financial reserves
  • The highly paid president makes millions each year

Singapore (CNN) -- Singapore's presidential candidates may all share the same name -- the common Chinese surname of Tan -- but with four candidates now officially in the race, this presidential election is the most contested in Singapore's history.

Singapore is a nation that's been ruled by one party since its independence in 1965. But the recent general election showed a growing interest by Singaporeans in politics and some point to a growing willingness of Singaporeans to speak out.

According to presidential candidate Tan Jee Say, "People are more open now in expressing their views against the government. In the past they were a bit apprehensive about being open. But now I think the election showed they are prepared to share their anger" he said, over the government's economic policies. He said the Internet, and movements in other countries like the "Arab spring" has had an effect on Singaporeans too.

While all candidates are officially non partisan, Tan Jee Say stands out as the most opposition candidate, having run in the recent general election with the Singapore Democratic Party.

People are more open now in expressing their views against the government.
--Candidate Tan Jee Say
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Another candidate Tony Tan has the closest links to the ruling party PAP and has been endorsed by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

While Singapore's presidency is a largely ceremonial role, the job has several important functions including the power to veto key government positions and to tap the government's financial reserves. The latter role came into the spotlight in early 2009 when current President SR Nathan gave approval for the government to draw S$4.9 billion ($4.1 billion USD) to combat the global downturn.

Singapore's president also commands an eye popping salary -- now more than S$4 million (Singapore dollars) or $3.3 million USD. Singapore's top officials all draw some of the highest government salaries in the world, attributed by the government as a draw for top talent and considered by some a strategy to keep out corruption.

The four candidates are Tan Kin Lian, a former executive of insurer NTUC Income, Tan Cheng Bock, a medical doctor, former member of Parliament and former chairman of a marine transport company, Tony Tan, a former deputy prime minister, a former defense minister and deputy chair of the government's sovereign investment fund, and Tan Jee Say, an investment adviser and former senior civil servant.

Singapore's Presidential election is scheduled for August 27.

 
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