Tan Kin Lian hints at withdrawing from election

Former NTUC Income Chief Tan Kin Lian said on Friday that he was 'thinking through conditions' he may set for another candidate to gain his support and for himself to withdraw from the race.

Campaign insiders told The Straits Times that Mr Tan might exit the Presidential Election, but has yet to make a final decision.

Mr Tan declined to elaborate.

However, he indicated in his blog that he is keeping his options open.

"Some friends suggested that I consider stepping down to avoid splitting the votes of Singaporeans who prefer to elect a person who is truly independent of the PAP Government.

They suggested that I would gain 'political capital' for making this sacrifice. Having thought over this matter, I am making full preparation for a four-cornered contest," he wrote.

In an email to his team, he said: "I am using the words 'making full preparation' which means the final decision will be made on Aug 17."

This comes a day after the 'four Tans' were cleared for contest in the election. The candidates - Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Dr Tony Tan, Mr Tan Jee Say and Mr Tan Kin Lian - turned up at the Elections Department on Friday to collect their certificates of eligibility.

Calls have mounted for 'non-establishment' candidates to unite behind one Tan.

The arguement is that the 'anti-government' vote may be split among the three - Mr Tan Kin Lian, Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say - thus clearing the path for former deputy prime minister Tony Tan to the Istana.

However, Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say told reporters that they were staying put.

Former National Solidarity Party secretary-general Goh Meng Seng told The Straits Times that he would be disappointed if Mr Tan Kin Lian pulled out.

"I think everyone knows a four-cornered fight will benefit Tony Tan. I feel that there should be a politically neutral person in the position of the president and I think Kin Lian is the most neutral among the four. He is the only one who has never contested in a general election," he said.

Mr Anthony Chia, campaign manager for Mr Tan, remains adamant that the team was in the contest to win and that there was 'no Plan B'.

Political observer Alex Au told The Straits Times that he believes that Nomination Day will see just three candidates entering the arena.