On Tuesday morning (Aug 22), Tan Kin Lian, a presidential hopeful, asserted that he had become the subject of a “smear campaign” over recent days.
In a media statement that had been embargoed until 1pm but was shared on Facebook at 7:02am, he stated, “It is now clear to me that it is a concerted effort by an attack group that went all out to smear me.”
Notably, he had originally referred to his “top opponent” but later removed this reference from his statement. The allegation also extended to the “editors of the mainstream media” and a women’s rights organization.
However, he made these claims without citing names or providing evidence. He also alleged the involvement of his “top opponent,” the “editors of the mainstream media,” and a women’s rights organization. However, a review of Mr. Tan’s Facebook page on Tuesday revealed that the statement had been revised to exclude any references to the “top opponent.”
Coinciding with this, a TikTok video began circulating, showcasing Tan’s past social media posts about “pretty” girls. The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) had expressed concerns about Tan’s record of “objectifying women.”
AWARE emphasized the need for the assessment of presidential candidates to consider their broader societal influence.
Tan firmly denied the claim of objectification and contested AWARE’s viewpoint. He highlighted his nearly five-decade-long, faithful marriage, inviting the public to independently assess whether his posts were truly objectifying.
A light-hearted compliment given to a good looking person, whether a man or a woman, is not “objectifying” them, Mr Tan wrote in his recent Facebook post.
He characterized the media’s response as an attempt to magnify a minor issue.
In response, Tan shared an image suggesting that offering light-hearted compliments to individuals, irrespective of gender, is not synonymous with objectification. He urged his supporters to counteract malicious posts by stressing the good-natured intent of his compliments.
TKL’s Daughter’s response :
I find Aware’s objection of my dad’s comments about women a bit overblown. I do not think that a light-hearted compliment given to a good looking person, whether a man or a woman, should ever be equated to “objectifying” them.
As a woman and mother to 2 beautiful daughters, I believe that women should have the confidence to reject the simplistic notion that a compliment on their looks “trivialises them”, “overlooks their myriad abilities and contributions” and “reduces them solely to their appearances for personal entertainment”.
Concluding his statement, Tan reiterated his preference for complimenting females while acknowledging the value of appreciating both genders.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam Responds
During a media interview, Mr. Tharman was asked to address Mr. Tan’s claims regarding a “smear campaign” targeted at him. In a Facebook post, Mr. Tan had stated that he perceived a concerted effort by an “attack group” to smear his reputation, implicating his “top opponent,” mainstream media editors, and a women’s rights organization, though he later revised the post to exclude the “top opponent” reference.
Responding to this, Mr. Tharman expressed relief that Mr. Tan had withdrawn the suggestion. He asserted that such allegations were contrary to his own principles and values. He clarified that he had no involvement in any such campaign and affirmed that nobody supporting him was connected to it either.
The allegation “goes against everything” he represents” Mr Tharman said.
“Clearly, I have nothing to do with it but I’m very sure that no one backing me has anything to do with it either,” said Mr Tharman.
When asked about Mr. Ng’s description of him as a “formidable opponent” and the reference to “David versus Goliath,” Mr. Tharman reframed the analogy. He depicted Singapore as the real David amid global “lions,” and emphasized the necessity of having a capable leader to represent the nation.
In this context, he emphasized that the era demands the best individuals with proven track records both nationally and internationally. He noted that in the current global landscape, larger entities are often at odds with each other, making it imperative for those who champion important causes to remain vigilant and not grow complacent.