SINGAPORE: President Tharman Shanmugaratnam spent S$738,717 (US$540,000) on his campaign for the Presidential Election, according to candidate declarations released by the Elections Department (ELD) on Friday (Oct 20).
His election expenditure was the highest among the three candidates. It was more than double the expenditure of Mr Ng Kok Song, who spent S$312,131, and more than 10 times that of Mr Tan Kin Lian, who spent S$71,366.
Each candidate was allowed to spend up to S$812,822.10 for this presidential election.
This is based on ELD guidelines that the spending limit is S$600,000 or 30 cents for each registered elector, whichever is greater. There were 2,709,407 electors.
Mr Tharman, a former Senior Minister, swept to a landslide victory in the Sep 1 poll, taking 70.4 per cent of the vote. Mr Ng received 15.72 per cent, and Mr Tan Kin Lian got 13.88 per cent of the vote.
HOW THE MONEY WAS SPENT
Mr Tharman’s highest expenditure was non-online election advertising, which came up to S$481,226. This was mostly for printing and putting up banners and posters, as well as printing and posting brochures.
His next highest expenditure was S$141,865 for online election advertising, which included spending on social media, his campaign website, and “youth and grassroots” interviews.
Mr Tharman’s expenses also included S$300 paid to ELD for the removal of six campaign banners, flags or posters that contravened election rules.
Five of the materials were displayed within 50m of a polling station, and one was displayed on a tree without the National Parks Board’s consent. They were removed on Cooling Off Day on Aug 31 and Polling Day on Sep 1.
While no rallies were held this year, Mr Tharman held an election meeting at Pasir Panjang Power Station and spent S$8,640 to hire the venue.
Election advertising also formed the bulk of expenses for the other two candidates.
Mr Tan spent nearly S$70,000 on non-online advertising, but only S$20 on online advertising. Most of the money went towards printing posters and paying for the manpower and transport to put them up.
His total expenditure is similar to that of his first run in the 2011 Presidential Election, when he spent close to S$71,000, according to TODAY.
Mr Ng was the only candidate to allocate more money to online advertising. He spent S$280,800 on it, compared to slightly over S$1,000 on non-online advertising.
During campaigning, Mr Ng said he would not put up banners and posters because he lacked the manpower resources to do so and wanted to run a more sustainable campaign.
His online advertising expenses included social media management and analytics, guest spots on podcasts and talk shows, and video production.
WHO DONATED MONEY
Mr Tharman’s campaign received S$800,000 from seven donors:
S$200,000 from Mr Koh Poh Tiong, board director at Fraser and NeaveS$200,000 from Mr Wong Ngit Liong, executive chairman of Venture GroupS$100,000 from Mr Yong Ming Chong, CEO of Dymon Asia CapitalS$100,000 from Mr Wong Kok Hoi, founder and chief investment officer of APS Asset ManagementS$100,000 from Ms Michelle Liem Mei Fung, board director at Tuan Sing HoldingsS$50,000 from Mr Loh Boon Chye, CEO of Singapore ExchangeS$50,000 from Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, board director at GIC
In response to CNA’s query, a spokesperson from Mr Tharman’s campaign team said the unspent donations would be returned to donors in proportion to their donations.
Mr Tan received more than S$41,800 in donations from about 120 individuals.
While his campaign was noted for having the support of opposition politicians like Progress Singapore Party’s Mr Tan Cheng Bock and Singapore Democratic Party’s Mr Chee Soon Juan, their names were not on the list of donors.
Mr Ng did not declare any donations. He previously said he was financing his campaign with his own savings and would not accept any donations.
Mr Tharman’s expenditure is the highest among the victors of the past three presidential elections.
Mdm Halimah Yacob spent S$220,875 on her campaign, although she would go on to run uncontested in the reserved election in 2017. Dr Tony Tan spent about $503,000 in the 2011 election, TODAY reported.