Teeing off with Singapores deputy prime minister

Updated: Oct 31 2004, 07:23am hrs
Wearing a black pair of spectacles and a formal suit, the 60-plus Dr Tony Tan looks very much the deputy prime minister of Singapore. Yet, once his hands land on the putter, its the golfer that takes over the statesman.

His face glows seeing the practice greens of the GLF Golf Course in Gurgaon. The green is a bit fast, he remarks as he misses the first putt. No misses on the second attempt. The white ball goes straight to the hole just like a pro-golfers would. So, without further ado, would he please tell us his his handicap Thats a secret, he smiles, holding up all 10 fingers.

After striking a few poses for the shutterbugs, Dr Tan reveals he is a regular golfer, who despite being deputy PM, plays as often as he can.

Coming to India after 20 years, he sounds enthused by the progress the country has made. The new buildings and the new townships and the way the government has incorporated the private sector in an area hitherto considered a public sector domain is remarkable, he says politely.

The last time he came to India was for a sad event, to attend former prime minister Indira Gandhis funeral. This time around Dr Tan is upbeat about enhancing relations between the two countries. There is tremendous scope for cooperation. We are negotiating for a closer tie and it is likely to be finalised in another two to three months, he says, having putted just twice, after which the golfer goes back to being deputy prime minister.