SINGAPORE — Things were not looking rosy but presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian kept up a spirited front until about half an hour past midnight when the final results came in for the Presidential Election.
One of the guests who was with Mr Tan at his house in Yio Chu Kang on Friday (Sept 1) night disclosed that his supporters did not expect the margin of victory to be so wide.
Mr Vernon, 43, who did not want to give his full name and who works in the finance industry, said: “We were actually expecting much more (votes for him) — so we’re just disappointed.”
Earlier at around 10.40pm, a sample count already showed the huge lead for Mr Tharman.
The sample count, released by the Elections Department Singapore, showed that Mr Tharman had received 70 per cent of the votes counted at the time, while Mr Tan had gotten 14 per cent. The other candidate Ng Kok Song took 16 per cent of the votes.
Mr Ng Ah Soon, 54, a senior hotel technician who was with Mr Tan said that the mood at his home was “heavy” when that was announced.
“He (Mr Tan) said that he was very tired and came over to us supporters to give us encouragement, and vice versa. The result was already confirmed,” he told TODAY in Mandarin.
However, Mr Tan put on a smile as he greeted reporters gathered on the premises, offering his congratulations to Mr Tharman and saying that he would concede defeat after the final results of the election are announced.
“Although this is just based on a sample count, I wish to send my sincere congratulations to Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam for his success in this contest, and I’m confident he will be elected as the President of Singapore.
“I wish him all the best in meeting the challenges ahead and I hope he will be able to help bring a better life for the people.”
Asked to clarify if he was conceding defeat at the time, he said: “I will concede defeat when the final results are out, but Mr Tharman has certainly got an overwhelming lead as of now, so I would think that he deserves my congratulations.”
Mr Tan then thanked his supporters and family members who had worked hard to help him with his campaign.
“I appreciate your dedicated support towards our common goals. I will now heed the advice of my family to take life easy and live a normal life,” he added.
“I will spend more time with my grandchildren. In my free time, I will continue to do my part in voicing the hardships and aspirations of the people through other channels.”
Mr Tan went on to say that he had expected to do “much better” in the contest. “But I think (for) election, things are uncertain.”
SOME SUPPORTERS LEFT EARLY
Throughout the night, several neighbours who lived in the same estate popped by to observe what was happening in their neighbourhood.
Before the final results were out, several of Mr Tan’s supporters left his house looking sombre, with most of them refusing to speak to reporters waiting outside.
There was no commotion when news came out on who won. TODAY understands that there were about 30 guests watching the news broadcast in Mr Tan’s home.
The few who left after that did so quickly and appeared resigned.
A representative for Mr Tan told reporters at around 12.50am shortly after the results had been confirmed that he had gone “to rest” and that “the results are clear — I don’t think he is coming out”.
When asked about the mood inside the living room, Mr Vernon said that after the sample count result was released, it was “pretty calm”, but that “there were supporters asking (Mr Tan) not to give up, because we need more independent candidates”.
Among those persistent about Mr Tan’s future chances was 25-year-old law undergraduate Chen Jun Hao, who is one of Mr Tan’s assenters.
“I’m very disappointed, but we gave a good fight, we fought the political machinery and we’ll be back for more.”
Mr Goh Meng Seng, leader of the People’s Power Party who endorsed Mr Tan’s campaign, told TODAY over WhatsApp that he did not expect Mr Tharman “to win by a landslide”.
“The loss is bigger than Tan Kin Lian or us, as it’s the biggest loss and setback of (the) democratic development for Singapore,” he said.
However, one of Mr Tan’s supporters, who identified himself as a neighbour and a friend, told TODAY after the sample count was released that the results were to be expected.
Mr Anthony Low, a 67-year-old retiree, said: “If I’m going to say that the sample count result came as a surprise, then either I have a screw loose or I’m not truthful.
“My guess is that Mr Tan Kin Lian probably feels the same way, because everyone knows he is competing against very creditable candidates this round.”
Mr Low also noted that Mr Tan’s lack of presence in the public scene since the 2011 Presidential Election had played a role in the large margin of victory for Mr Tharman.
“How are you going to win votes when you are not in the public eye for the last 10 years? He had practically zero visibility in front of Singaporeans other than his Facebook posts and social media.
“For him, I think he’s been active (this period) and he has done the fair thing to ensure he secures enough votes for himself to at least get his deposit back.”
During the 2011 Presidential Election, Mr Tan received 4.91 per cent of the votes, the lowest among the four candidates then. His election deposit of S$48,000 was forfeited because he did not receive at least 12.5 per cent of the vote at the time.