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Too little time? Tan Kin Lian's daughter frustrated with 'extremely unfair system of campaigning'

Too little time? Tan Kin Lian's daughter frustrated with 'extremely unfair system of campaigning'
Tan Kin Lian and his family at nomination centre on Tuesday (Aug 22). His daughter Tan Su Ling is on the far left.
PHOTO: AsiaOne

Are the campaign regulations and guidelines unfair? 

Tan Su Ling, the daughter of presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, seems to think so. 

On Wednesday (Aug 23) afternoon, Tan took to her Facebook page to air her frustration about the logistical difficulties of her father's campaign trail. 

"Seeing Tharman's (Shanmugaratnam) campaign posters and banners around the island just makes my blood boil", wrote the 48-year-old. 

Although she said that she has nothing against the former Senior Minister, Tan explained she envied that he was able to make preparations for his presidential campaign a few months in advance, and has a "strong political machinery" behind him. 

"He just has to come out with a ripe pineapple and charm everyone on day one," she commented.

Tan juxtaposed Tharman's situation against that of other candidates - including her father - whom she claimed had only three days to prepare, from the time they found out that they qualified for the election, to the day they could officially start their campaign.

"The team could not even print any campaign posters in advance because the election materials were not approved until very late, not to mention the hefty costs involved in any rush jobs." 

She further shared that they also required approvals from the authorities for putting up posters.

According to her, doing so without approval puts them at risk of having their materials taken down, or incurring a fine. 

Aside from campaign difficulties, Tan also brought up that having to fight "online attacks" contributed to what she felt was an "extremely unfair system of campaigning". 

She was referring to the slew of online criticism her father received for his old Facebook posts, including one he made references to "pretty girls", "pretty joggers" and "pretty slim girls". 

Addressing the concerns arising from the clip, the presidential candidate said on Tuesday that the backlash was a "concerted effort" to smear him. 

'Not fun' dealing with the backlash: Su Ling

In her post, Tan accepted that online attacks were a "given" in any political campaign, but said it was "not fun" dealing with the backlash while helping her father with his campaign. 

"I know deep within me that there is no point complaining," she said.

"We knew it was unfair already since we went through the whole circus 12 years ago but we still try. We fight and risk being laughed at again to give Singaporeans a choice for someone truly independent this time." 

In spite of the difficulties, Lim Tean, who is Tan Kin Lian's seconder, shared on Facebook yesterday that the first few posters have gone up in Hougang. 

Tan Kin Lian also spoke about Tharman's posters outnumbering his during a doorstop interview at ABC Brickworks hawker centre on Wednesday morning (23 Aug). 

He told reporters: "My team have put up a lot of posters. Maybe it will be half of Mr Tharman's, but for every two of Tharman you will see one of Tan Kin Lian's.

"And many people will come and say Tan Kin Lian looks better." 

While Singaporeans can expect to see posters and banners of these two presidential candidates over the next few days, there won't be any from Ng Kok Song, who told the media on Wednesday that he does not intend to have any posters and banners. 

However, his team distributed pamphlets to members of the public during his walkabout at Amoy Street Food Centre that day. 

Stating that he wants an "environmentally friendly" campaign, he said: "What's the point of making posters and banners, hang them up for a few days, take them down and then send them to be destroyed as waste?"

In a doorstop interview on Wednesday night (Aug 23), Tharman responded to questions about the possibility of an "advantage" that he might have over other candidates, saying: "Not really - actually, I've spent a lot of time in the last month with my team, mobilising volunteers. We put a lot of effort into it."

Tharman also explained why he and his team put emphasis on physical posters and banners - elections are important, he said, but in reality there will still be people with no access to social media.

"The reality is that posters are necessary in our electoral landscape… I do want to reach out to everyone in our heartlands and have put great effort into mobilising volunteers," he added.

Separately, entrepreneur George Goh had already printed his campaign materials, which consisted of badges, flags, tissue packets and even umbrellas much earlier on. However, he did not receive a certificate of eligibility to contest the election

Ample time to prepare for contest: ELD

In a statement released on Aug 16, the Elections Department said that there has been ample time for presidential hopefuls to submit their applications for eligibility, and to prepare to contest

Applications for COE applications opened on June 13. 

The statement came after Tan Kin Lian had criticised the "short timeframe" leading up to the presidential election. 

Noting that there are only 10 days between Nomination Day and Polling Day, Tan previously expressed that this was not enough time for him to convey his message to voters. 

READ ALSO: Tan Kin Lian believes president has 'tremendous soft power', similar to that of monarch

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