Tan Kin Lian shares highs and lows of his campaign

Liyana Low
SingaporeScene

Tan Kin Lian posing with a supporter during his lunchtime walkabout at the CBD. (Yahoo!)

Throughout his journey as a Presidential candidate, Tan Kin Lian said that he had experienced two low points, both of which happened to involve fellow candidate Tan Jee Say.

Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, Tan said, "The first low point was when Tan Jee Say decided to apply for the Certificate of Eligibility."

The former NTUC Income chief explained that Tan Jee Say was invited to be part of his strategic team  to formulate ideas for his Presidential campaign, and the latter had turned up for the first meeting.

But when the former Singapore Democratic Party member decided to join in the race for Presidency -- he was the last among the four of them to collect his forms, Tan Kin Lian said, "It caused some disruptions to my team."

And because of this, Tan Kin Lian noted some of the social media which initially supported him, decided to rally behind Tan Jee Say instead.  He said, "This was also the time when some people started to make insulting remarks about me, and it's unnecessary."

His second low point was when the eligibility certificate was awarded to Tan Jee Say "much to his surprise." He explained that, in his opinion Tan Jee Say does not fulfill the criteria of having run a company with S$100 million in capital, and added, "According to my common sense, Tan Jee Say does not qualify.

When asked to elaborate, Tan Kin Lian said, "I do not want to cause problems with the Presidential Election Committee."

"But this is beyond my control. I accept life as it is and I don't take things personally," he said.

When asked about Tan Kin Lian's comments, Tan Jee Say said, "As far as I'm concerned, everybody is entitled to his own personal assessment of the campaigns, so I respect his views for that."

Speaking at a media conference held at his private residence to celebrate the end of the campaign on Thursday night, the former senior civil servant explained what happened.

"When he asked me, I did offer my help, but I also told him that I am also considering going into the Presidential Election myself. (I told him) I have not quite decided yet, but once I decide, I will let him know, which was what I did," he said.

"I took some time; I went to consult two very senior lawyers, including a former high court judge. So that's it. Once I decided, I said this is it. I can't help it," he added.

Despite his low points, Tan Kin Lian also had high points, one of which was when his daughter, Tan Su Ling, gave her speech "in her capacity as a Singaporean and not as his daughter" during his rally on Wednesday night.

His other high points included having "many people come forward to help and volunteer their time" after he decided to run in the election, as well as when he finalised his campaign slogan, "Voice of the People".

During the conference, he also addressed the issue of National Service (NS) deferment -- an issue that has plagued Dr Tony Tan because of the allegations that his sons were given preferential treatment during their NS.

Tan Kin Lian said that he would hope for more transparency regarding the special privileges some people were given because this would be "in the principle of fairness."

In response to Dr Tan Cheng Bock's comment that candidates should not engage day-to-day politics, Tan Kin Lian said that he is interested in issues that would affect large number of Singaporeans, such as the cost of living.

He said that these were fundamental issues that have not been solved for a long time, and added, "I don't think this is day-to-day politics."

On his chances of winning the election, Tan said that he expects the "hard-core anti-PAP" to vote for Tan Jee Say, but he notes that there is a large middle ground that might not like PAP, but are not looking for someone who quarrels with the PAP.

He said, "My guess is that everyone would get about 25 percent while the winner could be someone with 35 percent. And I hope to be that 35 percent."