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The reasons for the cliffhanger finale

The reasons for the cliffhanger finale

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Voters want a down-to-earth president and not candidates who overpromise and cannot deliver, says Chua Lee Hoong.

If voters had gone to the polls simply voting for who had the best credentials, the brain power to solve economic problems and made a good ambassador overseas, they would have voted Tony Tan.

However, they didn’t.

They voted for the candidate that was more like them in a way, articulated concerns affecting locals and spoke more from the heart.

The young and the old, the affluent and the heartlanders wanted someone they can identify with.

Which is why Tan Cheng Bock came so close.

And Tan Cheng Bock’s supporters are a group to watch. They are the so-called “new PAP” constituency, a group of people who are also likely to vote Workers’ Party, as they demand stability and progress, as well as accountability and transparency.

Tan Cheng Bock managed to win a share of Tony Tan’s votes thanks to former civil servant and ex-SDP candidate Tan Jee Say who entered the game late.

The stridency of Jee Say’s campaign rhetoric, asserting that the Government has lost its moral compass, prompted Cheng Bock to move more to the centre and into Tony Tan’s turf.

In this respect, some of the remarks and promises by Jee Say, as well as Tan Kin Lian during campaigning have compromised the dignity of the presidential office.

Even after the Government sought to remind voters and candidates the role of the elected president, Jee Say and Kin Lian continued making promises they were unlikely to fulfil when elected.

Singapore might not be sure of the type of president it will get if the next presidential election shares this year’s cliffhanger finale.

The only consolation is that voters are discerning enough to not vote for the patently unsuitable.

This commentary is a 60-second reduction of the original article published in The Sunday Times, Aug. 28.

The writer is Chua Lee Hoong, political editor at The Straits Times.