SINGAPORE: Ex-Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan has labeled presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian both a “sexist” and a “racist” in response to a series of controversial social media posts the latter made between 2020 and 2022.
The former Ambassador-at-large made his dislike for Mr Tan Kin Lian clear on Monday (21 Aug) when he linked an article covering the ex-NTUC Income chief’s defense of his comments on seeing “pretty girls” on public transport.
Mr Tan Kin Lian had apologized to women who might have been distressed by what he called “lighthearted” comments but claimed that only a “small minority” were made uncomfortable by his remarks. Mr Bilahari, Chairman of the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, commented on his Facebook page, “He just doesn’t get it, does he?”
On Tuesday (22 Aug), the academic posted an image of a controversial post Mr Tan had made, in which he had joked that he felt he was in “Mumbai” after boarding a bus filled with Indian passengers. Mr Bilahari said, “The guy is not just sexist but also a racist it seems!”
Mr Bilahari has yet to endorse a candidate for the looming presidential election, but his posts make it clear that his support is not for Mr Tan.
Two other prominent diplomats, meanwhile, have publicly backed establishment pick Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Professor Tommy Koh said on Tuesday (22 Aug) that he has “decided to support Tharman for President” because he has “transcended race and is a leader for all Singaporeans”.
Praising Mr Tharman’s “independent mind,” “moral courage,” and “integrity,” Prof Koh added that the ex-politician is “well-prepared” for the custodial duties of the President, given his past roles as Finance Minister, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Chairman of the GIC’s Investment Strategies Committee.
A day later, Professor Kishore Mahbubani threw his weight behind Mr Tharman as he asserted that “there is no better choice” than the former Senior Minister for the presidency. He also posted a video in support of Mr Tharman, giving three reasons with which he hoped to persuade voters to support the ex-ruling party politician.
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