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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                       29  August 2011

Tony Tan wins close election

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Former deputy prime minister Tony Tan has secured victory after a recount in Singapore's presidential election, with the razor-thin winning margin exposing sharp divisions in the electorate.

Mr. Tan, seen as a proxy for the ruling party, won yesterday by 7269 votes over his closest challenger out of 2.1 million valid votes cast in Saturday's four-way race to become head of state.

Mr Tan, 71, received 35 percent of the votes, well below the 60 per cent garnered by the People's Action Party in general elections held in May, its worst showing after 52 years in power.

Analysts said Mr. Tan could have lost in a straight one-on-one fight, and he immediately reached out to voters who rejected him. "The president is a president for all Singaporeans, not only for those who have voted for me but even for those who have not voted for me. I pledge to work for each and every one of you," he said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appealed for national unity after an intense campaign dominated by calls from government critics for a politically independent president who can act as a check on the PAP.

"Now that the election is over, we should all come together again as Singaporeans, to tackle the challenges that Singapore faces, and take our nation forward," Mr Lee said.

Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University, said Singaporeans "are tired of elitism" and Mr. Tan was seen as a representative of the political establishment.

"Singaporeans want more checks on PAP," she said, adding voters felt "empowered" and were no longer afraid to speak for change.

The Elections Department ordered a recount of all votes cast after the first tally showed the two frontrunners were less than 2 percent apart.

The president has veto powers over key government appointments and safeguards Singapore's foreign reserves, which total about US$250 billion.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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