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They say 'Jee Say'

Crowds gather for presidential candidate as his team goes on walkabout with donation box. -TNP
Zul Othman

Mon, Aug 22, 2011
The New Paper

HE WALKED around Chinatown and waved to supporters, some of whom shouted out their support.

Never mind the stifling heat. Mr Tan Jee Say greeted supporters enthusiastically when he arrived at People's Park Centre at 4.30pm on Thursday.

Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Patricia Khoo, were in Chinatown to gather support for his bid for the presidency.

They, in turn, were greeted with shouts of "We Say Jee Say" and "Jee Say Ho Say" (Hokkien for good). A man yelled: "You're the only real candidate lah."

The man, who declined to be identified when approached by The New Paper, added: "Best of luck, man!" Observers have suggested that Mr Tan is likely to attract opposition support during his presidential campaign.

Will this hurt his chances?

"I embrace support from everybody," he replied.

"This country has been very divided...I don't see the opposition coming to support me as a problem...I don't see myself as anti-government either. I have an ear to listen to anybody."

He also had a donation box that went everywhere with him - Mr Tan had announced earlier that he would be asking for public donations as he estimated his campaign would cost about $200,000.

The election deposit for the Presidential Election is $48,000, which will be forfeited if a candidate fails to get at least 12.5 per cent of the valid votes.

Campaigning hasn't been easy for Mr Tan. His attempts to raise money with the mobile donation box are not always welcome.

A stall helper asked a volunteer who was carrying the donation box: "Is this money for the PAP (People's Action Party)?"

"No," the volunteer replied.

"Aiyah, then it is no good," the helper replied before walking off.

Sales executive Alex Chow, who's in his 30s, travelled to Chinatown on Thursday to see for himself what Mr Tan was like in the flesh.

"It is a bit odd to see Mr Tan Jee Say's people carry that box around...I understand the campaign will cost money, but surely there are other ways to raise cash," he said

Apart from that, Mr Chow, who described himself as "politically moderate", was not disappointed by the meeting.

"He came across as very approachable, which is a good thing. This election is not about politics, it's about connecting with the people," he said.

Mr Chow was among 300 people who greeted Mr Tan. There were some familiar opposition faces in Mr Tan's entourage including Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Jufrie Mahmood and National Solidarity Party member (NSP) Steve Chia .

Eccentric supporter

Even one-time independent candidate for the General Election Zeng Guoyuan was there in a yellow baju Melayu (a traditional Malay outfit) and a songkok (a traditional Malay headgear).

The acupuncturist, who wanted to run in the Mountbatten Single Member Constituency in the last General Election, was seen handing out fliers in support of Mr Tan.

Scenes like this that made day two of campaigning interesting, said Mr Faz Yousef.

The 40-something public relations executive is part of Mr Tan's media team and handles media queries. "The campaign has been going on nicely," added Mr Faz, who also acted as an SDP press liaison officer during the May General Election.

Given the nine-day campaign period, Mr Tan's Thursday schedule was packed.

Earlier in the day, he was at MediaCorp to record his Presidential Candidate broadcast, followed by media interviews at the Tanglin Club. He and his wife left the club at 4pm.

Mr Tan described the reception from the public as "enthusiastic".

Those who met Mr Tan described him as approachable and friendly.

"He does seem very kind," said Madam Cindy Tay, 47, who was in Chinatown.

"But I haven't made up my mind yet, I'll wait and see what the other candidates have to say before deciding."

Mr Tan's walkabout had a "pasar malam" atmosphere with the stalls in the area enjoying brisk business from people streaming in to catch the presidential candidate.

They left Chinatown at 6pm, but the day was not over.

Later that night, Mr Tan was at a closed-door discussion, organised by socio-political website The Online Citizen, with the other candidates, Dr Tony Tan, Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Kin Lian.

Mr Tan's schedule yesterday was also packed with meetings and functions.

At 3pm, he was at the Hainan Tan Clan Association for "good luck" tea. The presidential hopeful said he had three dinners to attend after that.

So is he piling on the kilos?

"No. I'm losing weight from all the walking," he joked.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Copyright ©2011 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.
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