Template:Recentism Template:Use British English Template:Use dmy dates Template:Chinese name Template:Infobox person Template:Chinese Tan Kin Lian is a Singaporean businessman and social activist, and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NTUC Income. Since stepping down as CEO in April 2007,[1] his activities have included organising public rallies for people who lost their money due to investing in Lehman Brothers' Minibond products to seek redress,[2] and setting up FISCA, an organisation to teach people about long-term financial security.[3] In 2008, he indicated that if sufficient people want him to, he would be willing to stand as a candidate for the next election of the President of Singapore.[4][5] Tan stood in the 2011 Presidential Election and finished in fourth place out of four candidates with 4.91% of votes.

Business careerEdit

Director and CEO of NTUC IncomeEdit

Tan became the general manager of NTUC Income Insurance Co-Operative in 1977, at the age of 29, subsequently re-designated as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and remained in this position until April 2007.[6] During his leadership the company has grown from having S$28 million in assets in 1977 to more than S$17 billion in assets and over one million policyholders in 2007.[6][7]

Tan ran NTUC Income with the aim of providing the best value to the policyholders. This meant lower fees for insurance agents, encouragement of direct selling practices which bypassed the agents altogether,[8] and low operating expenses (throughout his 30-year CEO term Tan flew economy class, even on long haul flights). This management style clashed with some of NTUC Income's board members, who preferred the Co-Operative to be run on a more commercial or professional basis, and even advocated it to be privatised. The board asked Tan to step down after completing his 30-year term at the helm.[9]

Other positionsEdit

Tan’s 2007 CV mentions more than 60 directorships and other corporate appointments.[10] Of these, the most notable is the chairmanship of International Co-operative & Mutual Insurance Federation (1992–1997),[11][12][13] an international organisation which at that time represented 123 insurance groups in 65 countries, employing 260,000 people.[14][15] The total assets of the members of this international federation totalled US$1.5 trillion (1997 figure).

Brush with politicsEdit

Tan was a member of Singapore's governing political party, the People's Action Party (PAP), for 30 years but left in 2008 due to inactivity and disagreement with the party's value system. He was previously the party's branch secretary at Marine Parade for three years and was chosen in 1977 by Goh Chok Tong, a new Member of Parliament (MP) then, to test a pilot scheme for setting up block committees, now known as residents' committees. For the first 10 years, Tan was active in Marine Parade constituency but became inactive for the next 20 years after he moved to Upper Thomson and later to Yio Chu Kang areas.[16]

According to Tan himself, he was asked to stand for elections to Parliament twice, in 1979 and 1985 (exact dates uncertain). He declined both times, earlier – due to his work commitments and later – because he disagreed with the direction of the party policy on issues such as National Service and the Graduate Mothers Scheme.[17]

Post-retirement interludeEdit

Since retiring from NTUC Income in 2007, Tan provides free financial advice and opinions on current affairs through his blog,[18] and establishing Financial Service Consumer Association (FISCA)[19] to teach people about long-term financial security. During the 2008 financial crisis, he organised public rallies for people who lost their money due to investing in Lehman Brothers' Minibond products.[2] The rallies resulted in a petition to Singapore government, signed by 983 investors.[20]

2011 presidential electionsEdit


Tan sent early signals in 2008 that he wants to be Singapore's next president.

On 7 June 2011, Tan announced that he would be running for the presidency. Following this, he promised to donate a significant part of the S$4 million presidential salary to a specially formed charity and circulated several statements outlining his position on the role of the president, including a controversial statement on safeguarding the reserves.[21] The statements drew a mild rebuke from senior members of the Singapore government, who attempted to publicly clarify that the Elected President has only "custodial powers" and not "executive powers". In response, Tan issued another statement, where he agreed with the limitations but nevertheless stressed that “the president does not need to be armed with strong executive powers to make an impact. A well qualified and properly elected President will make his impact through the power to persuade, to influence, to counsel, to convey feedback and if necessary, to articulate informed positions on specific issues.”[22]

On 7 July 2011, Tan submitted the presidential eligibility forms.[23] Tan had submitted his application for the Certificate of Eligibility under a Special Clause – citing his experience as CEO of an insurance cooperative with a shared capital of S$500 million and assets of S$17 billion. He was granted the Certificate of Eligibility on 11 August 2011, along with the other three candidates.

File:Poster of Tan Kin Lian for the Singaporean presidential election - 20110828-02.jpg

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Tan said that his main reason for running is that "Many people said they want voice, they want to be heard. I think I probably represent the person who has got ears to listen and is able to think independently." Tan thinks the role of the Elected President should be expanded, and has suggested for example, having the President's Office produce an annual report detailing the country's reserves. "I recognise that the President cannot be a second centre of power but that does not mean the President cannot do anything, because in order to make good decisions it's better to have several points of views," he said. Tan has pledged to donate a significant part of the annual S$4 million presidential salary to charity.

In response to rumours circulating that Tan would be dropping out of the presidential race early, he has refuted such claims and expressed that he would be filing his nomination papers as planned on 17 August 2011.[24] He submitted his nomination forms on 17 August. In his nomination day speech, Tan was the only candidate who spoke in four official languages of Singapore (English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil).

Tan advocates[25] the need for the burden of National Service to be shared by all segments of the society, including females and non-citizens.

Tan's symbol is a "Hi-5". He explained "the raised hand signifies willingness to do public service, while the five fingers signify his values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service."[26]

In less than three hours of the vote count, Tan conceded defeat. He got the lowest votes, with only 4.9% of the votes. For failing to achieve at least 12.5% of the votes, Tan also lost his S$48,000 deposit.

Awards receivedEdit

  • Friend of Labour Award in May 1978
  • The Public Service Medal in August 1983
  • The Rochdale Medal in July 1992
  • The Financial Personality of the Year Award in August 2000
  • 2001 International Management Action Award
  • The Public Service Star in August 2004
  • The Leading CEO Award in June 2005

Relationship with Ong Teng CheongEdit

Tan had a close relationship with Ong Teng Cheong, the fifth President of Singapore. When Ong was elected as President, Tan presented him a set of orchid motif ties in different colours, which were commissioned by NTUC Income and made in the United Kingdom.[27] Ong liked the tie in red color and used it on a number of important occasions, including Nomination Day and his inauguration as the President of Singapore.[27] He also wore it for his presidential portrait which was displayed in government offices and other organisations.[27]

Tan was involved in several causes promoted by Ong, such as the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT), the first Singapore expedition to Mount Everest, and the President's Charity. Tan promoted the SDT performances to the policyholders of NTUC Income and later joined the board of directors, where he served for 12 years.[28] NTUC Income became one of the main sponsors of the Mount Everest expedition.

During the last two years of Ong Teng Cheong's term, Tan chaired the President's Charity event to raise funds and to promote the Singapore Dress.[29] When Ong's wife died, shortly after the second charity dinner, Tan organised 1,000 messages of condolences from Singaporeans, submitted through the Internet, and presented the book to Ong.[30]

Personal lifeEdit

Tan is married to Tay Siew Hong and has two daughters, one son, and two granddaughters.[31] He enjoys making puzzles (Sudoku, Logic9,[32] and Shape Quiz[33]) and online games (Family Life, Business Simulation)[34] that stimulate creative abilities and teach risk management. Despite having a car, he prefers travelling by public transport.


  1. Script error
  2. 2.0 2.1 Script error
  3. Script error
  4. Script error
  5. Script error
  6. 6.0 6.1 Script error
  7. Script error
  8. Dhaliwal, Rav. Income sets up info centre for walk-in customers. The Straits Times, 25 Dec 1990
  9. Wong Lim Hoh, Robin Chan. Ex-Income Chief asked to quit co-op. The Sunday Times, 7 Aug 2011
  10. Script error
  11. Kooi Cho Teng. NTUC Income general manager to chair world body. The Business Times, 16 June 1992
  12. Income GM first Asian to head world insurance co-op. The Straits Times, 16 June 1992
  13. Script error
  15. Script error
  16. Script error
  17. Script error
  18. Script error
  19. Script error
  20. Script error
  21. Script error
  22. Script error
  23. Script error
  24. Script error
  25. Script error
  26. Script error
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Koh, Veronica. Singapore's very own – the President's Tie. The Straits Times, 25 Dec 1993
  28. Cheah Ui-Hoon. Have dance, will travel. The Business Times, Singapore, 19 June 1999
  29. Record $400,000 raised so far.. The Straits Times, 25 Aug 2001
  30. Tan Kin Lian. LETTER – Fly flag at half-mast for First Lady's funeral. The Straits Times, 3 Aug 1999
  31. Script error
  32. Script error
  33. Script error
  34. Script error

External linksEdit

Template:Commons category


Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.