Chee Soon Juan 'not enthusiastic' about all 3 presidential candidates but endorses Tan Kin Lian

He also urged Singaporeans not to spoil their votes. 

Ilyda Chua | August 30, 2023, 12:29 PM

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In an Aug. 30 Facebook post, politician Chee Soon Juan endorsed presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian. 

This is despite finding several of Tan's views "off-colour" and "deeply immoral", said Chee, who is secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). 

Initially planned to vote for Tan

Chee said that he had initially planned to vote for Tan, but later found himself "wavering in [his] support" after hearing the latter's remarks on several issues. 

In particular, he disagreed with Tan's views on increasing the voting age and his comments on women and opposition politics.

On women 

"I know of two young women who are eligible to vote this PE. They are strong-minded and fiercely independent. They are my daughters and I am their biggest admirer. This is the reason I find Mr Tan’s “pretty girl” remark off-colour," he wrote.  

"Intended or not, his comments trivialise the worth of women and does nothing to advance their empowerment and promote gender equality. I’m glad that he has apologised for them."

On Nomination Day (Aug. 22), Tan claimed that the public ire over his controversial Facebook posts were "malicious attacks" and slammed the media for turning something he viewed as "frivolous" into a "big issue."

However, he offered an apology to "other ladies" who feel uncomfortable about his posts.

On voting age

Chee also found himself "in deep conflict" with Tan's views that the voting age be raised to age 30. 

He cited the example of his son, who is about to enlist in National Service. 

"To ask a man to kill or be killed for his country and then deny him of the right to vote seems illogical – indeed, deeply immoral," he pointed out. 

Tan previously said during a Facebook livestream video on Aug. 22 that he felt many young people of 18 or 21 are "not aware of the political situation" and said there was merit to raising the voting age.

However on Aug. 24 he put out a Facebook post saying he was not "advocating" raising the voting age, but merely "expressing a different point of view." He said that after further reflection, he supported lowering the voting age to 18 years.

On opposition politics

Chee also slammed Tan's comments that "I don't believe politics solve problems" and that "opposition does not help".

"I can only hope that he was misquoted or his words were taken out of context," he wrote. 

"Many of us spent our lives fighting for a system in which political parties, civil society and non-government organisations actively participate in political debate and public life. 

"To make throwaway lines like this is reprehensible," he added. 

Tan made the remark during a walkabout at Geylang Serai on Aug. 25, following fellow candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam's comments about the importance of respect between the president and prime minister.

Tan agreed with Tharman and added, "I am not opposition. Opposition does not help. I am a problem solver."

A "good man" despite his foibles

Despite disagreeing with him on these issues, Chee said that he believes that Tan is still "a good man".

He added that he shares Tan's views on topics like CPF, high salaries of elected officials, and National Service.     

Additionally, Tan's views are "not immutable" and he can be educated to see things differently, Chee claimed. 

Regardless, Chee said that the real reason he is advocating for Tan is that these transgressions "pale in comparison to the damage that Mr Tharman's (former) party has done to democracy in Singapore and, more importantly, the harm it will continue to inflict on our nation’s future development."

He added that while he considers Tharman to be "the most cerebral of the three candidates", his past affiliation with the PAP cannot be overlooked.  

"To believe now that he is independent running for president is to believe that water flows upwards," he wrote. 

As for Ng Kok Song — "he and Tharman are but two different shades of grey", Chee added. 

Don't spoil your vote: Chee Soon Juan

While himself "not enthusiastic" about all three candidates, Chee urged Singaporeans not to spoil their votes. 

"To this end, I am reminded that life seldom packages things neatly into good and bad, right and wrong for us to choose," he said.

"The reality is that we are often faced with moral dilemmas where we have to choose the best from a bad lot."

However, to spoil your vote would be akin to "doing nothing".

Chee added that the last time Singaporeans were able to vote was back in 2011. 

"After 12 long years, we finally get that chance again. That vote is too precious to spoil," he wrote. 

He concluded:

"As imperfect as the choice on Friday is, if it helps to 'build a democratic society, based on justice and equality', then it should be clear who we choose.

I choose Singapore."

You can see Chee's post below:

Top image from Chee Soon Juan/Facebook and Mothership