Dear Sirs, Thank You For This Year’s Presidential Race
Following his sweeping victory at the 2023 Presidential Elections (PE2023), Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam received many words of congratulations, even from his opponents.
Since then, Mr Ng Kok Song and Mr Tan Kin Lian have largely stepped away from the limelight, likely resting their weary bones.
The two 75-year-olds did put up a fair fight after all.
In the past month or so, they bared themselves for all to see, getting support from some while drawing the ire of others.
From giving Singaporeans a chance to vote to sparking conversations about whether it’s socially acceptable to call strangers “pretty girls”, here are some things we ought to be grateful for this past PE2023.
Thank you for gifting Singaporeans an extra Public Holiday
You could almost hear the collective cheers when Singapore’s manpower ministry announced the Public Holiday on 1 Sep.
This is in accordance with Section 17 of the Presidential Elections Act which states that Polling Day has to be a Public Holiday if there is more than one eligible presidential candidate contesting the PE.
Not only was it an extra holiday this year, but it was even a long weekend.
So Singaporeans being Singaporeans packed their bags for Johor Bahru, causing a preposterous jam at both land checkpoints on 1 Sep.
The rest of us who stayed at home likely just enjoyed an extra day of rest while waiting for the election results with bated breath.
For giving us a chance to vote
Of course, let’s not forget the main point of the Public Holiday — that is the privilege of having a chance to vote.
Some younger millennials like myself missed out on voting in PE2011.
I was 16 years old then and my only concern relating to the president was that his portrait hung in my school hall.
Thanks to Mr Tan and Mr Ng, I had the chance to go to the polls and exercise my rights as an adult citizen.
A day before Cooling-off Day, the latter said the following to reporters:
I’m already very happy that I’ve achieved the first goal of my coming forward, which is to enable the people of Singapore the chance to exercise their right to vote.
So thank you, Mr Ng, and also Mr Tan for stepping up to the plate.
Thank you for spurring convos on pretty girls & big age-gap couples
One of this year’s PE2023 highlights is the ‘pretty girl’ fiasco surrounding Mr Tan.
He had made the comments a while ago and they unsurprisingly resurfaced during his presidential campaign.
His comments, though controversial and not the best for his reputation, nonetheless made us think and talk about the issue at hand.
They made us question if it’s socially acceptable for men and public figures to make such comments.
It also gave some a platform to voice their opinions of the issue based on personal experiences.
Meanwhile, Mr Ng’s relationship with his 45-year-old fiancée Ms Sybil Lau also took the spotlight — mainly because of their 30-year age gap.
Seeing how they supported each other in real life inspired and touched the hearts of some observers.
Lest we forget, presidential candidates — no matter how accomplished they are — are humans too.
… and letting us sleep after the sample count
Those preparing for a long night on 1 Sep must’ve been pleasantly surprised when the sample count came in before midnight.
Shortly after hearing the results from the sample count, Mr Ng conceded defeat.
Why he did so might bring tears to some of our sleep-deprived eyes — he didn’t want to keep Singaporeans from their bedtime.
Meanwhile, Mr Tan waited for the final count before bowing out and congratulating Mr Tharman for his victory.
Mr Ng and Mr Tan exhibited grace in their defeat and mental stamina and fortitude for sticking through their campaigns.
We hope that from here on out, the two will just “take life easy“.
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Featured image by MS News, photography by Iskandar Rossali, and adapted from Tan Kin Lian on Facebook.
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