SINGAPORE: On the last day of the campaign for this year’s Presidential Election, Singapore Democratic Party Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan wrote that while he’s “not enthusiastic, for different reasons, about all three candidates,” he acknowledged that he needs to cast a vote on Friday (Sept 1). And for him, spoiling the ballot is not a choice.

I am reminded that life seldom packages things neatly into good and bad, right and wrong for us to choose. The reality is that we are often faced with moral dilemmas where we have to choose the best from a bad lot,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning (Aug 30).

Dr Chee added that he had planned on voting for Mr Tan from the beginning, but some of the candidate’s remarks had given him second thoughts.

Mr Tan got into hot water for past social media posts about “pretty girls,” which the candidate brushed off as a concern that bothered only a small minority.

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But the SDP head writes, “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.

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.”

He also disagreed with Mr Tan’s call to raise the voting age to 30. “If my son, who is about to serve his National Service, can be called upon to fight in an armed conflict should one break out and be trusted to make decisions that could mean the difference between dying and living for himself and his platoon mates, then why can’t he be trusted to choose his government?”

The opposition leader added that Mr Tan has said, “I don’t believe politics solves problems” and that “opposition does not help”.

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“I can only hope that he was misquoted or his words were taken out of context,” wrote Dr Chee, “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.”

But to those considering spoiling their vote or choosing former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song, he wrote, “I beseech you to re-consider your decision.

To spoil your vote is akin to doing nothing; it’s like standing around and watching while a house is on fire. At this crucial juncture of our country’s development, we cannot afford to remain a bystander and do nothing.”

He added that Mr Tan’s views may change through discussion and debate.

“On this occasion, we, as citizens, are called to make a profoundly important decision, a decision that will determine the direction of how our country proceeds.

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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.”