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PE 2023: Tan Kin Lian says personal backing from opposition figures not 'party politics', apologises again for online posts

SINGAPORE — Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian on Wednesday (Aug 30) defended the endorsement he has received from opposition politicians Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say, saying that they have both done so in their personal capacity and as such it is not "party politics".

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  • Responding to a TODAY article, Mr Tan Kin Lian said that the Presidential Election should not be framed as “party politics”
  • He reiterated that Progress Singapore Party chairman Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say, who is a member of the Singapore Democratic Party, had endorsed him in their own personal capacity
  • Speaking to the media during a walkabout in Hougang Central, Mr Tan said he was confident about his chances 
  • He also apologised to those who were upset by his comments or actions in the past

SINGAPORE — Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian on Wednesday (Aug 30) defended the endorsement he has received from opposition politicians Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say, saying that they have both done so in their personal capacity and as such it is not "party politics".

Speaking during a walkabout in Hougang Central, the former chief executive of insurer NTUC Income said: "As this Presidential Election is above politics, I respectfully ask the media and the political analysts to stop framing this election as party politics. It is not party politics." 

He said the trio, who were all presidential candidates in 2011, share a common vision of having a President who is "independent of the ruling Government".

His comments were in response to a TODAY article about Mr Tan's backing by opposition politicians — Progress Singapore Party's Dr Tan, Singapore Democratic Party's Mr Tan Jee Say, Peoples Voice's Mr Lim Tean and People's Power Party's Mr Goh Meng Seng —  as well as a poster displayed in Chinatown that has since been taken down which features the three former rival candidates with the tagline “one vote, three presidents?”. 

In the article, political analysts cast doubt over Mr Tan's claims of independence and said what he was doing risked “politicising the Presidential Election”.

In response to this, Mr Tan said: "If I am elected as President, I will exercise my constitutional duties with an independent mind and will always act in the interest of the people.”

“My guiding principle would be ‘is the recommendation in the interest of the people?’ and I will exercise an independent mind to make that decision.”

When asked how he feels about his odds of winning, Mr Tan said he feels confident after receiving feedback from the ground that he had done well during CNA’s Presidential Forum on Monday night.

Mr Tan, who distributed flyers while speaking to residents and shopkeepers, added: "I'm also glad that my two opponents are now discussing between themselves the problem that they face. I'm out of that discussion. So I can focus my time on how to reach out to the people and what is important to them."

He was referring to rival candidates Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Ng Kok Song who have disagreed over the issues of political affiliation and independence over the last few days.

Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian handing out campaign fliers at a walkabout near Hougang MRT station, Aug 30, 2023.


In his opening remarks, Mr Tan Kin Lian also apologised for remarks and actions he had made previously that were “upsetting or inappropriate”.

“As an outgoing person, I like to share my daily activities and observations on everyday life. I never meant any disrespect to the people I encountered,” he said. “I will be more mindful (of) what I say in the future.”

When asked why he was apologising on the last day of the campaign, he said he was advised to but did not elaborate further on who he was advised by. 

He also apologised for cancelling an online rally — which was planned for Wednesday night — due to a “conflict of priority”.

Mr Tan said he had to focus on getting approvals for counting agents, putting up posters and organising volunteers, among other things, given his team's limited resources. 

His volunteers are now focused on giving out as many flyers as possible and sharing his campaign message across Singapore before the day ends.

Mr Tan told the media that he will be spending time with his family on cooling-off day, with plans to have a steamboat dinner.

Meanwhile on polling day, he will be stationed at his home, or “command centre”, to monitor the results.

After speaking to the media, Mr Tan then took selfies and gave out signed cards with his picture to his volunteers. 

While describing his flyers and posters to the media, he quipped: “I believe that the people who receive these (flyers and posters) will keep them and if I get elected, it will be more valuable.”

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Presidential Election 2023 Tan Kin Lian

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