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PE: An Unsatisfactory Election

by: Jen Tai/
Photos: Shawn Danker/

There are many things that are Uniquely Singapore, some of which are not positive. One of these things is taking part in highly unsatisfactory elections. For many Singaporeans, we didn’t get to vote for years/decades till May 2011 and even then it was most unsatisfactory as residents in Tanjong Pagar still didn’t get to vote due to a technical 3-second legality. And for many who did vote, they had to vote for GRC teams, some of which comprised members whom the voters did not like nor want to support.

This Presidential Election is turning out to be even more unsatisfactory and almost farcical. The time given for Singaporeans to really know the Presidential candidates is much too short (yet again) and this is doing a great disservice to the electorate. In this space of time, we have been left feeling confused and dissatisfied, which may have been the intent of the political strategists.

Given the situation and the slate of candidates, the elections is fast becoming a case of voting for who we object to least rather than who we really want for many Singaporeans.

Putting aside the camps that are devoted PAP/Tony Tan supporters, and the respective supporters of Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Kin Lian, it seems clear that a significant number of voters still do not know who they want to vote for.

For this group of the “undecideds”, many are united on one thing - they do not want Tony Tan who is proving, with every electioneering comment that he makes, that he is totally pro-government, steeped in old-school PAP arrogance and is likely to protect and maintain the status quo if elected President.

Choosing one of the remaining three Tans is a dilemma as all three have clear flaws which have been pointed out in other commentaries and in online forums. But all three do show genuine sincerity and passion in wanting to make changes that are better for Singaporeans.

Meantime as one of the “undecideds” I only know what I don’t want in our President:

  1. Someone who does not have the stature of a President to represent Singapore.
  2. Someone who makes us feel queasy when we look upon Presidential wall photos.
  3. Someone who is inarticulate and speaks broken English.
  4. Someone who does not have the morals, conviction and compassion to do what is right for Singaporeans.
  5. Someone who is bent on protecting the ruling party's power base.
  6. Someone who does not have the guts to speak up and the stamina to stay the course for Singaporeans.
  7. Someone who lacks the EQ to understand the people and how to work with the ruling party.
  8. Someone with a questionable history of cockiness and past behavior.

Going by some of the criteria eliminates one of the candidates for me – Tan Kin Lian. As for Tan Jee Say, he has the guts and has raised good issues, but he comes across as overly aggressive.

As for Tan Cheng Bock, he remains a mystery to me as to who he really is and I wonder how far he will go to do the right thing in protecting our country’s reserves and in speaking up for Singaporeans. But interestingly, he may turn out to be the “safe” vote for many people.

So what are we “undecideds” going to do come August 27? Many are waiting to see which of the non pro-establishment Tans is leading in the race by end of this week. The game plan, it seems, is to vote for the leading candidate to boost his chances of winning. How they will know which of these three Tans to bet on is going to be challenging.

What is clear though, is that this election is turning out to be one that is not by choice but by elimination for many voters. And that is totally unsatisfactory and unbecoming for a Presidential Election.