Singapore will hold its presidential elections in the coming days. Last week, the final roster of candidates was announced
Out of six applicants, the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) picked out just three career politicians
to battle it out for the country’s executive head. According to Channel News Asia
, Singapore’s Election Department chose these candidates as they were men of “integrity, good character and reputation,” and that they had the key competencies and experience required to effectively carry out the duties of the post.
outlines steep criteria and strict expectations of presidential aspirants. For instance, candidates must demonstrably have the skills needed to head the country, either through years of public service or a track record of leadership in the private sector. A candidate must also be “a person of integrity, good character and reputation.”
One hopeful, however, seems to have fallen short of this bar – despite making the PEC’s final cut. Soon after the final list of candidates was released, a TikTok video went viral
, unearthing posts from Tan Kin Lian between 2020 and 2022 where he mentioned his encounters with “pretty girls” while out in public. When asked by Channel News Asia, Tan dismissed these, saying that only a few people found them offensive while most Singaporeans considered his posts to be “quite fun.”
Eventually, as the criticism and clamor grew, Tan started lashing back
, accusing political opponents of mounting a smear campaign against him.
That Tan was shortlisted despite these posts not only raises questions about the PEC’s criteria, but also about the underlying values that constitute a candidate’s “integrity, good character and reputation.”
Unfortunately, this type of lack of respect for women runs rampant in Singapore, where conservative and borderline abusive beliefs continue to be pervasive
, especially among men. Feminist group AWARE called Tan’s remarks “an act of objectifying women, reducing them solely to their appearances for their personal entertainment.”
The posts are unbefitting of a President, who should embody the values and morals that the country should hold most dear, AWARE added.