Presidential elections nomination day

Many Singaporeans, when they see this chap, will know it’s election time again.

He is Yam Ah Mee, the Returning Officer, who became an overnight sensation after the general election in May this year, for making results announcements in an expressionless way. In this picture, he was announcing, on 17 August 2011, that four candidates had successfully nominated themselves for the presidential election. Polling Day will be 27 August 2011.

This is not an essay, but just a collection of photos I took at the People’s Association headquarters on King George’s Road which had been designated as the nomination centre.

I arrived to find large marquees set up on the field in front of the building. People were steadily arriving, but most took shelter under the marquees since nothing was happening as yet.

Asking around, I was informed that all four prospective candidates had already arrived — no one had changed his mind overnight about contesting.

The one-hour window for nominations was from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, but the waiting stretched to about 12:45 p.m. before the above-mentioned Yam Ah Mee appeared. Between 11:30 and 12:30, it drizzled too. At first, people remained within the tents, with only the media and die-hard supporters parking themselves nearer the stage, where the field was not sheltered.

But as 12 noon came and passed, more and more people began to move forward into the open field, pressing against the barricade. Here are two wearing T-shirts with a candidate’s face on them.

Then Yam Ah Mee appeared and announced that there would be four candidates.

First to address the crowd was Tan Cheng Bock garlanded the old-fashioned way.

He was followed by Tan Jee Say and Tony Tan.

As Tony Tan came onto the stage, he was met with a chorus of boos and had to wait a while before he could start to speak. Even then, a section of the crowd began chanting “Patrick Tan”, the name of Tony Tan’s son — I believe he’s there in the photo at extreme left. Tony Tan has received considerable online flak for the 12-year deferment that his son enjoyed from National Service. Patrick Tan completed most of this obligation working in a lab as a scientist.

A minute later, the chants became boos again, which thankfully, didn’t last long.

Straits Times had a short report about Tony Tan’s assentors. Whereas other candidates had quite ordinary Singaporeans,

Dr [Tony] Tan’s seconder was Chua Thian Poh, chief executive of Ho Bee Investments and one of Singapore’s richest men.

Among Dr Tan’s assentors were Mr Gopinath Pillai, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms Olivia Lum, founder and CEO of water solutions firm Hyflux; Dr Stanley Lai, senior counsel at Allen and Gledhill; and heart surgeon Dr Joseph Sheares, son of Singapore’s second President Benjamin Sheares.

— Straits Times Breaking News, 17 August 2011, Notable figures among key supporters for 4 presidential candidates

Why I wonder, did Tony Tan choose such people? What message is he trying to send? Then again, maybe he only mixes around in such stratospheric company and these are the only kind of people he knows.

Then it was Tan Kin Lian’s turn to speak:

He was the only one who said something in each of the four official languages. I don’t know if what he said in Tamil was understood by real Tamil speakers, but I’m sure they’ll give him full marks for trying.

During the speeches, the crowd began to unfurl their flags and banners. Tony Tan’s supporters had more than the others, but what was notable was that many banners bore the name of some union or other.

In fact, I had noticed about 8 to 10 excursion buses parked outside, and I wondered if there was a connection between these buses and the organised groups from the unions.

Tan Kin Lian’s campaign has a nice logo:

Next up are the supporters of Tan Jee Say and Tan Cheng Bock:

After the short speeches, the candidates came out to greet their supporters,

. . . pose for pictures

. . . and give media interviews.

By about 1:30 p.m., it was all over, but the hard part of campaigning had only just begun.


29 Responses to “Presidential elections nomination day”

  1. 1 yuen 17 August 2011 at 21:15

    >but the waiting stretched to about 12:45 p.m. before the above-mentioned Yam Ah Mee appeared.

    in case anyone thinks the electoral office is tardy: 12-12.30 was designated time for candidates to study each others’ nomination papers and object to any defects they detect; I assume some time afterwards was allowed so that they could inform Mr Yam of any issues they wanted to raise; I assume he came out to announce the four candidates only after he was sure that all the nominations are valid

  2. 2 meiming 17 August 2011 at 22:30

    Let the best man wins.

  3. 3 Anonymous 17 August 2011 at 22:40

    It can be seen that most people who went there to “support” Dr Tony Tan are actually “volunteered” for it. Think Dr Tony Tan will be utilising these free union resources for his campaign just like how PAP utilises the PA.

    • 4 Robox 18 August 2011 at 02:31

      “…most people who went there to “support” Dr Tony Tan are actually “volunteered” for it.”

      It’s a deliberate capitalization of the tactic of the “herd mentality” effect, which is well documented in the mass psychologically involved in voter behaviour: If you think that there are many, many, many, many, many people who are supporting X, you want to be in on it as well. (For various reasons, including strategic ones.)

      That many people supporting X cannot be wrong, can they?

  4. 5 Anonymous 17 August 2011 at 22:55

    Appreciate your effort to go to the PA premises and share your photos and observations with the rest of us who were not able to be there. Thanks !

  5. 6 Beth 17 August 2011 at 23:19

    how i wished that someone asked the elderly supporters if they went at their own accord. If not, who volunteered them to attend and who were they supporting? But one of the photos has these elderly partly decked in red (the colour for TCB), and I do suppose that Dr Tan has his share of fervent aged supporters.

  6. 7 Rabbit 18 August 2011 at 01:46

    Not to worry about the excursion buses which are likely to have ferried the union employees & banners to the site and fake support for Tony. Even though I am not a supporter of Tony Tan, having to take a break from stressful work place for a free ride to do something unproductive and relaxing and yet get paid is every employee’s dream.. I doubt some of these banner carriers will vote for Tony. It look so staged, like the GE.

    Nonetheless, SPH is going to pick photos for Tony as if he is well-received with “crowds” surrounding him. Other presidential hopeful may not get SPH-priviledged treatments.

    Having said that, I think Patrick Tan apperance will be a bane to Tony Tan election campaign. His NS deferrment is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

  7. 8 Anonymous 18 August 2011 at 09:42

    TT will obtain 38%. There is no significant difference amongst the other 3. So it is unlikely that anyone of them will get more than 35% individually. Sorry, none of them thought of the people, only of themselves. If they had, they would have withdrawn and we would have an alternative president. As it is, the 60% is gonna be split. Is it too late to withdraw?

  8. 9 Poker Player 18 August 2011 at 11:06

    “A minute later, the chants became boos again, which thankfully, didn’t last long.”

    Chants are better than boos? I think chants are seriously overrated.

    • 10 Poker Player 18 August 2011 at 11:10

      BTW did Tony Tan’s much more numerous supporters try to counter the chants and boos with cheers or something like it? If not, they are in serious need of training.

  9. 11 This is Anfield 18 August 2011 at 13:50

    Even though I have not decided who to vote, the jeering of TT by supporters of TJS may just encourage independents and the undecided like me to view TJS unfavourably. Ok, so you don’t like the guy because of his status, his hair, his glasses, his whatever, but surely you can accord him the respect of his brief two minutes just like the others, yes?

    • 12 Poker Player 18 August 2011 at 16:41

      Tony Tan was part of a government that did unpleasant things. I am sure **none** of these things was worse than getting people to boo his opponents.

    • 13 jem 19 August 2011 at 09:53

      Unless someone actually did a survey, it’s premature to assume all jeerers were supporters of TJS (just because the 154th says so?). They could well include supporters of TCB and TKL as well.

  10. 14 Chanel 18 August 2011 at 13:58

    “I had noticed about 8 to 10 excursion buses parked outside”


    Many residents at Sembawang (where Tony Tan was previously an MP) were enticed with free kunches and to/fro bus rides to be at the Nomination centre to “support” Tony Tan. Thus, it is unsurprising that his supporters greatly outnumbered the other 3 Tans.

    I do wonder who pays for the lunches and bus rides? Sembawang Town Council? People’s Association?

  11. 17 James 18 August 2011 at 15:24

    The support of the unions for Tony Tan doesn’t mean anything other than they know that he’s going to win and want to get in line early for any future political favours.

  12. 18 wakeup 18 August 2011 at 16:01

    TT is surrounded by all the rich people on stage. It shows clearly that he is not connected to the ordinary Singaporeans. But of course SPH will show it differently. Hope the older generation of Singaporeans who deserve more will wakeup.

  13. 19 K Das 18 August 2011 at 16:25

    At personal level I have nothing against TT. He is a nice, polite gentleman. But at political level I reject him at this juncture. He represents the corporate world and indirectly PAP’s larger interests. This is clearly foot-printed in the presence of his assenters on nomination day– all corporate figures. This may unwittingly project an image that he is far removed from the real concerns and worries of ordinary Singaporeans. His lack of political sense and sensibility in choosing a good mix of his assenters is shocking to say the least.

    Booing and heckling is part and parcel of political battles. I think it faded away at the later part of TT’s speech. My only disappointment was that the other three candidates were not booed at. It should have been to, make it all square and fair (as in love and) in election.

    TT should not wish the political ground to be clinical and sanitized. It reminds me of a joke I heard decades back. A very young boy was shouted at as ‘bastard’. Not knowing the meaning he asked his mother. The mollycoddling mother, not wanting him to learn bad words, told him it meant a ‘priest’. Another day somebody shouted at him ‘balls’ and when he asked his mother for its meaning she said ball means ‘umbrella’. True enough, one day it was raining heavily and a father came to his house with an umbrella and the boy politely told him: “Bastard, bastard hang your ball on the wall”

  14. 20 Richard kang 19 August 2011 at 08:42

    Hi Alex , the presidential constitution is not easy to understand for the ordinary guy . Though man made it empowers the president yet his wings clipped. He can be removed . If a rogue government comes into power , I wonder if he can really veto spending the reserve and veto key appointments . What s your take on this ?

    • 21 yawningbread 19 August 2011 at 09:28

      The impeachment procedure is set out in Article 22L, subsections (3) to (7):

      (3) The Prime Minister or not less than one-quarter of the total number of the elected Members of Parliament referred to in Article 39 (1) (a) may give notice of a motion alleging that the President is permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office by reason of mental or physical infirmity or that the President has been guilty of —

      (a) intentional violation of the Constitution;

      (b) treason;

      (c) misconduct or corruption involving the abuse of the powers of his office; or

      (d) any offence involving fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude,

      and setting out full particulars of the allegations made and seeking an inquiry and report thereon.

      (4) Where the motion referred to in clause (3) has been adopted by not less than half of the total number of the elected Members of Parliament referred to in Article 39 (1) (a), the Chief Justice shall appoint a tribunal to inquire into the allegations made against the President.

      (5) A tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice shall consist of not less than 5 Judges of the Supreme Court of whom the Chief Justice shall be one, unless he otherwise decides and such tribunal may regulate its own procedure and make rules for that purpose.

      (6) A tribunal shall, after due inquiry at which the President shall have the right to appear and to be heard in person or by counsel, make a report of its determination to the Speaker together with the reasons therefor.

      (7) Where the tribunal reports to the Speaker that in its opinion the President is permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office by reason of mental or physical infirmity or that the President has been guilty of any of the other allegations contained in such resolution, Parliament may by a resolution passed by not less than three-quarters of the total number of the elected Members of Parliament referred to in Article 39 (1) (a) remove the President from office.

      For a rogue government to abuse such a process, it will have to control three-quarters of the seats in parliament and several supreme court judges.

      • 22 Ben 19 August 2011 at 11:56

        Based on the above, the PAP government has the power to remove the elected President. I wonder if our third President, Devan Nair, was forced to resign. I quote from Wikipedia:

        “On March 28, 1985, Nair resigned in unclear circumstances. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stated in Parliament that Nair resigned to get treatment for alcoholism, a charge Nair hotly denied. According to Nair’s counterclaim, he resigned under pressure when their political views came into conflict and Lee threatened to seek a motion in parliament to oust him as president. Nair also alleged that he was fed drugs to make him appear disoriented, and rumours were spread about his personal life in an attempt to discredit him.”

        Would something similar happen to Mr Tan Jee Say, if he got elected as President?

  15. 23 James Soh 19 August 2011 at 12:19

    I am sad to see that as a developed nation we still have people behaving in an un-civic manner. I am sure TJS has lost many undecided voters because of this unruly behaviour of his supporters.

    • 24 Poker Player 19 August 2011 at 16:55

      Nice to see indignation over boo-ing in a country where people are bankrupted for saying things that in *true* developed nations would be laughed out of court. Don’t get me started on those who actually ended up in jail.

      Give me the boo-ing anytime. More important to me is not being bankrupted for saying things (said in Hongkong for one particular person for Chrissakes!) – well – look up what he actually said.

  16. 25 This is Anfield 19 August 2011 at 14:21

    I am sure the fact abt TT’s time in govt will be debated ad nauseum. However, for that brief two mins when TJS spoke, did any of TT’s people boo or heckle him? Don’t think so. So why not accord TT the same respect even for that two mins? Does it mean that when an arrogant SOB like Jose Mourinho brings Real Madrid plays Sengkang at Hougang Stadium, Real Madrid should be given a broken down changing room because you don’t him and his team?

    • 26 Poker Player 19 August 2011 at 15:33

      Why ad nauseam?

      I am sure people who consider themselves victims of the ruling establishment infinitely prefer being boo-ed at than what was done to them.

    • 27 Poker Player 19 August 2011 at 16:38

      There is a noticeable sissification of the senior members of the political class. Contrast how LKY dealt with detractors on the streets.

      He arranged for floodlights to be aimed at hecklers during speeches.

      Rowdy demonstrating left wing students actually hid in schools when he came round. He actually banged at the school gates asking them to come out to debate him.

      Not for him the expression of “disappointment” or second hand defenders.

      The guy got cojones.

  17. 28 Chanel 19 August 2011 at 15:32

    There must be like 25 organizations that have “endorsed” Tony Tan and still counting. This is uniquely S’pore because I can’t name another developed country with this endorsement-mania during presidential election.

    Maybe we should have a Presidential Endorsement instead of Presidential Election — the candidate with the most number of endorsements wins!! It sures saves a lot of people’s time and taxpayers’ monies.

  18. 29 silly 19 August 2011 at 23:21

    Comments like “I do suppose that Dr Tan has his share of fervent aged supporters” and “Hope the older generation of Singaporeans who deserve more will wakeup” are an insult to the older voters. Don’t they have a right to vote whom they like

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