Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Statement from Tan Kin Lian on the Presidential Election

31 August 2011
The outcome of the Presidential elections was obviously a shock to me. I expected a much better result and the prospect of polling less than the 12.5% of the votes (and losing the deposit) was felt to be remote.

Some commentators said that I should have known the ground feel on nomination day and withdrawn my candidacy then. This would have given the other "non-establishment" candidates the vital additional votes needed to win the elections and save me from the dismal disappointment of receiving only 4.9 per cent of the votes as well as a substantial financial loss.

As always, the wisdom of hindsight never fails but the truth was that on nomination day, the voters were still largely undecided on whom they would be voting, if at all.

My private surveys as well as information from a third party survey pointed to a credible level of support for me. I had also expected strong support from the heartlanders and the over 1 million policyholders of NTUC Income (where I had served for 30 years) as well as many people who remembered my advocacy of public causes and the plight of those who suffered investment losses during the last financial crisis.

Stacked against these positive indications was an on-line poll on Yahoo which showed a low level of support for me. However, I felt that the online poll was not representative of the entire voting population, as proven in the recent general election, and there were indications that this particular poll had been manipulated.

Anyway, it would have been difficult for me to drop out of the contest at nomination date. I would have disappointed the people who wanted to vote for me and also my supporters, who had put in a lot of work during the previous six weeks and my donors.

There was also the risk that I would be considered a coward or a quitter or someone who was never serious about the election. Most importantly, I felt that I could offer a choice of a different platform for Singaporeans to decide,

Some people asked if I would have withdrawn if I had reliable information that my support was less than 10%. The answer is that this is a moot point as we did not have that information. As already shared, we believed that on nomination day, the voters were still largely uncommitted.

I decided to contest the election on my platform to be the voice of the people, to use the influence of the President to make life better for Singaporeans and to be a truly non-partisan candidate. I worked hard to bring this message across in the TV broadcasts and the forums among the four candidates.  Regrettably, I failed to convince the voters and became the candidate with the least votes.

I also suffered considerable damage from some mis-reporting by the mainstream media. My proposal on giving better recognition to male citizens who served national service was wrongly reported as advocating that females should also serve national service. Although the media reported my correction on this point, the damage had already been done and was irreparable. I also suffered from negative slant in the reporting on some other issues – which I shall not dwell on.

My post mortem showed that there were a few weaknesses in my campaign strategy, my image and messaging. I shall not go into them in detail. 

The clear and positive message, sent in by many people after the results including those who did not vote for me, was that I was seen to be “sincere, courageous and spoke for Singaporeans”. I like to thank them for their support, understanding and encouraging words.

I was accused by my detractors of being the person responsible for letting Dr. Tony Tan become elected as President. They argued that I should have withdrawn, so that a “non-establishment” candidate could have been voted in.  I had already explained why I could not take this approach.

I would also make the point that it was really up to the last candidate to withdraw as his platform was similar to mine in several respects. In the arena of natural justice, it is really only fair that the last one in should bear the responsibility for the outcome of the changed situation

My approach was to let the people of Singapore decide on the best person to be President. I do not have any preference for any particular candidate – not even for myself. I had congratulated Dr. Tony Tan for winning a hard fought contest. Time will tell if he can deliver the promise that he will act independently of the Government and protect the interest of Singaporeans. I feel that we should give him that chance.

The election had cost me and my donors a total of $120,000, including the loss of the deposit and also a dent to my reputation.  However, I have already managed the disappointment and will take a positive attitude towards this outcome. I did receive slightly more than 100,000 votes from people who believed in my platform and looked positively towards me. Their trust and regard are worth the price that I have to pay.

I had also given a choice to the people of Singapore of a truly non-partisan platform. I respect their decision at this time but hope that the non-partisan concept embodied in my platform will find their support in the future.

I am willing to continue the work of being “the voice of the people”. If there is sufficient interest and support from other interested people, I will create a new website and mechanism to implement this role.  If not, I will try to play this role in a smaller way.

I would like to thank the small team of about 50 people that had worked hard with me throughout the campaign and to the generous donors. They had put in time, dedication, support and care.  I thank them very much for sharing the passion with me. My thanks also go to the 100,000 over people who voted for me.

What are my plans for the future? Will I take part in a future general or presidential election? I will keep an open mind on this question. It will be decided at the right time in the future. In the meantime, I will continue to serve the people of Singapore by communicating with them through the social media and also assist them to the best of my limited ability.

To conclude, I would like to leave everyone with the following quote from Marilyn Vos Savant -

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”

I have not given up.

Tan Kin Lian
Candidate for the Presidential Election, 2011


David Lim said...

well said Kin Lian. Ultimately despite the office being a non-partisan one, most SIngaporean's voted along partisan lines, which surprised me - esp when TJS garnered 25% of the vote when he was seen, in his recent SDP days, as a combative Opposition figure. You were neither for the status quo nor against it, and as such i think failed to convince a partisan voting public of what they should have been voting for

David Lim

joni said...

Kudos to you for your courage! I am glad that you are able to face your disappointment with such a positive attitude. You are indeed an inspiration to many of us!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan Kin Lian,

We need more people like you to take up the challenge. Do not give up. Please come back again.

151004 said...

that is the determination that is sorely lacking before. then your indecisiveness is a concern. i see one more value -- failing forward [take failure as a step forward]. through this pe, you are now sure of your eligibility to compete and you have also earned badly needed publicity. and many others positive outcomes. as the voice of the people continues, your campaign can continue.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan,

Though I had indicated I would not want you as President because of certain policies during your tenure as CEO of NTUC, nevertheless, I do agree that you have the qualifications to assume the duties.

I ask you not to be disheartened by the results you received.

In my opinion, what made the difference was not the candidacy of Tan Check Bock or Tan Jee Say, but the candidacy of Tony Tan.

You have correctly identified the lack of relevant experience by TCB and TJS. It is my opinion that next to Tony Tan, you have the most relevant experience.

Yet it is also this point that probably lead to the low vote count you received.

If I may put it one way, for voters who sought someone qualified for the job, you probably score a B, but Tony Tan an A (the other 2 being a C and a D respectively).

Another point in your favour is that you do not carry the "baggage" of being a former MP of the political party in power.

I think, had Tony Tan not run, you would have gotten the votes he had received, and probably a significant portion of votes that went to TCB and TJS.

You might not have thought of it this way when Tony Tan announced his candicacy and contributed your results more to TCB or TJS.

I can only remind you that the dynamics are different when the mix of candidates are different.

Thank you for running - I hope many Singaporeans will realise that the results reflect that there is great diversity of views in Singapore, and that such is the nature of democracy.

All the best to your future.

Rainbow Fluffy said...

Mr Tan, TOC has uploaded an article by Alex Lew about you. Very happy to read about it. At least, they recognise your efforts.

Please continue to be our voice. As for the last candidate, he seemed to have "borrowed" your ideas and undercut even your donation. Very unscrupulous indeed!!!

It's sad that 25% of the voters are blind.

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan Kin Lian

You did the right thing to stand for election. Let the election process roll out, and let the people see the real you. Singaporeans learned a lot from the EP election process.

We are proud of you being a true Singaporean and great candidate. I am sure Singaporeans will know you are a honest guy with good value, whether they voted for your or not!

May God bless you with more good health.

From Cashew Nut

Sem said...

I voted for you sir and I will again

Anonymous said...

I think you have very good chance of being an elected MP but not Elected President because of your personality and background. Thus switch your focus & efforts to the forthcoming GE2016 instead.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan,
I would say:
1.U clearly made a mistake about your support base in the beginning.2.The contest is not just about disappointing people who wanted u to run or your donars so on or your interest, it also factor in whether u can beat the other candidates since u hav no PAP backing n also not run in GE like TJS, where some voters already like him then.
3.U come across as likeable,nice and sincere but that cant grab enough opposition votes since they r lookin for a more obvious leader n TJS campaign is very clearly consistent message of opposition thru out.Your branding may be too wide reaching,this strategy does not work when against powerhouse like TT,TCB.
4.Your positive attitude is an inspiration to others to soldier on even when not winning.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan
I really don't understand why some people say you should have withdrawn.

If I remembered correctly;
TCB was the first to say "I will not withdraw."

TJS subsequently also said the same thing.

Whereas you kept the door open for discussion until the very last minute.

All my family members voted for you. Including my dad and long time PAP voter.

We have no regrets supporting you. We are proud and relieved that there are Singaporeans like you who are still willing to do what's right for Singapore.

William Teng said...

Hey Kin Lian,

I think the other 2 reasons most people didn't vote for you are:

1. Most people did not really know you enough.

2. You have promised too many things that you will do for them as President.

Nevertheless, at least you have the courage to speak your mind and most of all with dignity.


lim said...

Uncle Tan, thank you for being stand up and be counted, althought I did not vote for you, pls continue to be voice of people.

To try is better than standing aside a continue critise


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan

When you announced your contest in the Presidential Election and where there were only TT, TCB and you contesting, I decided to vote for you.

But then at the last minute, came TJS. Initially many people and I did not think highly of TJS but throughout the media interviews and all the media reporting, TJS is without a doubt a very charismatic candidate. I can even say he can sway some heartland aunties with his charimsa. Hence my decision to vote for you then started to waver.

I think you started the 1st day of campaigning very well. However when you decide to expand the scope of the EP to include pension, allowance for NS men, I think you have started to digress from the constitutional and perceived roles of the EP.

On the last day of your campaigning you should not have highlighted your lowest points in the media interview. By doing so, it seems to signal to voters of your inconfidence and that you have already prepared to lose, hence it seems natural for voters to vote for some one who is more confident of winning. I think this admission of your lowest points in is a very costly mistake of your candidacy as it means zero confidence to people who have initially planned to vote for you.

Dear Mr Tan, you started the campaign very well. I like your hi-fi, your thoughtful slogan but as the campaign proceeded, you have inadvertently committed some what may seems to be trivial mistakes but nevertheless they mean significant things to voters.

Mr Tan, this is inevitable as you are a political newbie compared to the 3 other Tans who have contested GEs and hence you may not know the intriacies and rudimentals of political campaigning.

I can sense that your have put your heart and mind in the campaigning. Your hardwork touches me. Though you did not win the Presidential Election, I think you are already very Successful, having a good family, being a grandpa, successful in career and community. I am now in my early 30s and am struggling in my career. How I wish I could be as Successful as you Mr Tan. Hence Mr Tan, cheer up! Though you have lost the EP, you are already so much Successful than many many Singaporeans, I wish you all the Best and hope you continue your efforts to help people like me who are what some called the Lesser Mortals.

Do not be disheartened. For me, I keep striving and striving and getting up despites falling down.

I wish you Good Health.


Lesser Mortal

rex said...

rex comments as follows,

Mr Tan, i do not quite understand your sore feelings about others "copying" your platform. In fact in the 2nd TV broadcast you accused Tan Cheng Bok pointblank that he took your idea of "voice of the people", to which Dr Tan gave a pretty neat and dignified answer, and it made you look really petty. Did anyone tell you it backfired on you?

As TCB said, whatever you call it, doesnt matter, representing the people, voice of people, call it anything, is a generic concept. There isn't any copyright to generic concepts!

Also, You suggested in your post that TJS should have withdrawn because he also took your ideas such as donating salary.
I can;'t see your logic there.
The only reason for any candidate to withdraw, is to enhance the chances of getting a non establishment President. What has it to do with justice and copying and last one in, etc, strange reasons you gave above.

Withdrawal should not be seen as an act of cowardice, it would have been an act of heroism.

I have a hunch that even if you don;t think the yahoo polls is rigged, you would have continued the fight, i get the feeling that your main reason is basically a matter of pride and also to try not to disappoint your small pack of helpers who committed money and time.

It's tough to please everybody!


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir. I would have voted for you. I voted for TCB instead because it was tactical. This is the first time I voted for someone close to the PAP. I did so, so that I join force with the masses, the PAP grassroots, the moderates, the people who voted for Chua Kim Yaw instead of Mr. Ong Teng Chong in 1992. I did so, to deny Tony Tan from becoming president.

It almost worked. We only missed by 0.34%. Remember Sir, that you did so for the people. You represented many of us. Your votes were low for many reasons. One of which was that many of us voted tactically.

If the PAP believes that the votes for TCB and TT represented a votes in support for the PAP brand, then they are sadly mistaken.

li345feng said...

So please stop blaming other candidates
And I don't blame you too.
Because there are more than 5% never vote and these votes may turn the tide.

peter low said...

Dear Mr Tan,

I really admire and appreciate your participation in the EP2011.

I didn't vote for you as I am ardent supporter for PAP's preferred candidate.

The reason why I insist all my family members vote for TT is because we are afraid TCB will just win it with the help of the silent mass who would prefer a less white than white!

It almost worked but at las, the core whiters are enough to sent tt to istana, and block event tcb's dream.

I think the EP is a gentlemen battle, all 4 never gave up and support the others, that will be "cheating". You did not ask your supporters to vote for TCB during the last period of the campaign and for this, I saluate you.

Pls consider and run for GE2016, one out of 89 is better than none. Your voice can be heard freely and loudly in Parliament than in the Parliament and not in Istana.

Best wishes,
peter low

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan Kin Lian,

My friend and I voted for you because we admire the fact that you were from a humble background. :-)

However, I would like to offer some views from those of my friends who did not vote for you. One of my friends felt that although you were a great CEO, your English public-speaking skills need to be improved. With regard to this, you can discuss with your daughter Su Lin. She gave a great speech.

Another friend preferred to vote for TJS, because he felt that TJS made some pertinent points in his speech which resonated with him, e.g. what he said about the ISD and changing the role of the president. My father, a staunch opposition supporter, also chose TJS, because he had the impression that you were a "PAP man". Many of his coffee-shop friends thought the same too.

Now I know you're not a PAP man, but it appears that many voters do not. If you had wanted the opposition votes, perhaps you could've made stronger statements against the PAP.

I don't know if you really intend to run again at the next PE. It won't be easy, but I will continue to support you. If it is your dream to serve the people as a president, use the next few years to establish yourself. Do more for the people.

When the country is in dire straits, there are more important things at stake than ourselves. I hope you can move on from your loss and focus on the big picture.


With warmest regards,


Anonymous said...

I voted for you because you have been speaking your mind all these years in the press, your blog, etc. When Minibond investors were in trouble there was no one to help champion their cause. You are the one. Unfortunately not all know this especially the aunties, uncles, who are not informed and the young gen who are just not interested and obsessed with their iphones. MPs, Ministers, etc were conspicuously absent. Their silence was deafening - to quote an oft-repeated cliche. You are a known quantity. Others choose to speak after their leaders have spoken. I do not agree with you all the time. I believe your low votes was because your competitors have higher exposure over the years. Even my illiterate relatives say they want to vote for the white hair man - that is when I sense that you are not going to get the votes and went to bed early. Whoever is the President does not matter because he is restricted by the Constitution. Again I vote you because I know you thru your emails and your sharing on your blog.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, the "Voice of the People" concept was formulated by TKL. Granted, it was not copyrighted, nor patented, nor trademarked. Some of the other candidates simply latched onto this concept, reworded it and got a free ride. This is ungentlemanly, especially if no credit was given to the originator. I think that was the pt TKL was making.

It is a fact that some candidates copied several ideas from TKL. Voters can interpret it any way they want.

Withdrawing is not as easy as it seems. Candidate must be accountable to his donors, sponsors etc. If they encourage him to pursue, then it becomes a tough call for the candidate to make.

Anonymous said...

I want to let you know that my family and I voted for you in the last GE. Undoubtedly, people still
vote along party political lines, when they should have seen the position of the President is non-party political.
I thank you for standing up to let people have the choice . You clearly live up to your 5 platform but sadly its image that matters most to people

Anonymous said...

Dear TKL,

Having 104,095 people vote for you is nothing to be ashamed for.

Many of your detractor or anonymous critics would've found it impossible for them personally to get support from that many people.

It takes bravery to do what you have done and my family commend you for that!

Anonymous said...

One more thing that didn't help in your PE election is to attend the forum/debate chaired by people from-as I see them-to be pro PAP. surely they will ask you awkward questions to make you lose votes. I wouldn't attend if I were you, unless the people,except the PE candidates, do not actively participate in the debate/forum. the others should just be timekeepers.

Yan said...

Well said.

You write so well but you can practice more on public speaking.

I have always supported you. and will continue to do so

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan Kin Lian

I do not know you, but have vaguely heard of you name before the elections. My friends told me that their parents benefitted from your insurance packages when you were in Income.

It is sad to know these facts now.

I was undecided between you and TCB. I finally voted for TCB, because many said that you will lose and I did not want to waste my vote. I have nothing against you, for nothing for TCB. As many had said, it was tactical.

I am now beginning to think, that the rumours that were spread about you going to lose may have cost you a lot of votes.

The media had not been fair to you. Shame on them.

You should continue to do what you preached during your campaign - to be the Voice of the People. Show that you were serious about it, and not just 'election talk'.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rex- Withdrawal should not be seen as an act of cowardice, it would have been an act of heroism.If you are smart enough, you will withdraw and allow tjs to pull more votes from yours and higher chance to win the election. Although I am not in favor of him or you in the first place.But based on the relationship you guys had.

Yumei said...

Hi Kin Lian

I was 1 of those who vote for u . I quite sad at the poor result as well and was shocked. I believe it because u have not participated in prev GE and have a lower profile as compare to other candidate. I glad you are not dishearten and learn to reflect and move on. I agree that mainstream media paint a more negative light on u as compare to the rest of PAP associated candidate

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