Ok. If I knew I would be the only one who said Ong Teng Cheong is my favourite President, I would have given an essay answer. So here goes:
1. He’s most well known for being the first (and only) president who actually cared about WHAT was in our reserves and whether it was used properly. Google “56 man-years”.
2. He was well loved by the people for standing up for their livelihoods. He was the first (and only) NTUC Union Head to sanction a strike for shipyard workers. Bloody Americans refused to pay and wanted to pull a fast one. He said: Go forth and whoop some white ass. Problem solved in 2 days. And Tony Tan, then Minister of Trade, had a fit.
3. He was well respected by his peers. One of the golden boys considered Prime Minister material by LKY. The rest were Goh Chok Tong, Tony Tan and S. Dhanabalan.
Fun fact: LKY said we were not ready for an Indian PM. 27 years, and 69% approval rating later, we are still not ready for an Indian PM. #tharmanforPM
4. He was well hated by his peers by the time he questioned our Singapore reserves and opposed the unofficial and hasty sale of POSB (a stat board and our people’s piggy bank) to DBS. But I think they still secretly loved and respected him as a friend. Because he had balls, and built up trust over the years within PAP, he was able to stretch boundaries in order to make good change.
5. Sadly, he didn’t continue for a second term because his wife was dying of cancer and he wanted to spend time with her. When he died, he didn’t get a proper state funeral like LKY did. Because look what happens when you defy your clique openly?
I was sec 1 when he died and vaguely remembered news that our school flag will not be at half mast though the president died.
I think the most important quality he had was that he listened. No one was beneath him. He truly listened to the ordinary folks. So hint to any prospective PM, please listen, rapid fire lecturing is quite condescending.
Source: FB post by Leianne Tan