The recently concluded presidential election saw more than S$1.1 million expended across the campaigns of the three candidates, with significant investments funnelled into advertising, according to official records released by the Election Department.
Elected President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who secured a resounding victory with 70.4% of the votes, topped the spending charts at S$738,717, dwarfing the expenditures of the other two candidates. Former GIC chief Ng Kok Song spent S$312,131, and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian spent S$71,366.
Notably, a substantial portion, amounting to S$481,226, was allocated for conventional election advertising avenues, encompassing posters, flyers, and banners. In contrast, his expenditure on online election advertising trailed at S$141,865.
Ng Kok Song, eschewing the traditional medium of printed posters and banners, dedicated a staggering S$280,800 to online advertising, primarily managed by GushCloud Entertainment Pte Ltd. Ng spent a mere $1,059 on printed brochures.
Running a relatively low-budget campaign, Tan Kin Lian’s expenditure was mainly on his posters, with an almost negligible investment of S$20 allocated for online advertising.
The Election Department earlier announced that the Presidential Elections Act permitted a maximum expenditure of S$812,822.10, equating to S$600,000 or 30 cents per registered voter, whichever sum is larger.
A deep dive into President Tharman’s expenses reveals extensive funds channelled into printed brochures, totalling $284,820.68, and substantial investments in election posters and banners. The campaign also complied with regulatory mandates, paying S$300 for the removal of non-compliant advertising materials, following directives from the Elections Department.
Notably, President Tharman’s campaign was significantly boosted by donations totalling S$800,000, including substantial contributions from prominent figures such as former National Kidney Foundation chairman Koh Poh Tiong, contributing S$200,000, and Venture Group’s executive chairman Wong Ngit Liong, also at S$200,000, along with Michelle Liem of Tuan Sing Holdings Limited, who donated S$100,000. The unspent funds are slated for a proportional return to the donors.
Conversely, Ng Kok Song’s trail revealed a self-financed campaign without external contributions, aligning with his earlier assertions of utilizing personal savings. His campaign expenses were predominantly for services rendered by GushCloud, encompassing various digital marketing strategies and a significant amount on transport services. Gutzy understands that Ng Kok Song did not deploy any polling or counting agent on polling day.
Tan Kin Lian’s campaign, while modest, was supported by over 120 micro-donations received via PayNow, with Bollywood Veggies founder Ivy Singh making the most substantial individual contribution at S$9,990. His spending primarily covered traditional campaign materials, including the island-wide display of 5,000 posters.
The detailed financial disclosures, accessible for the first time directly from the Election Department’s website, allow the public to freely access these records online. In a departure from previous practices, members of the public would visit the ELD office and pay a S$2 fee for each set of candidate’s expenses viewed. Interestingly, the records also disclose the receipts of the expenses, for which members of the public previously had to pay for photocopies.
These financial documents will be available until 19 April 2024.
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