Following the uproar over Singapore presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian’s repeated Facebook posts about “pretty girls”, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has since issued a statement on the elections, according to Channel NewsAsia.
AWARE said in their statement that recording women in public without their consent, posting about pretty girls and commenting on their appearance isn’t light amusement, but an act of objectifying women.
They said that such acts reduce the women solely to their appearances for his personal entertainment.
Tan Kin Lian previously addressed the concerns when speaking to the media, stating (SIC):
“ah.. most of the people says it is quite, err… liked, err quite enjoyable. That is how I build, err… my err… people to be interested. There would be a few people who are feel uncomfortable, ahhh but that is a very small minority. That’s a very small minority, majority actually find that to be quite err… err quite okay, err quite quite fun.”
AWARE S’pore’s full statement
Statement on the Presidential Elections 2023
August 21st, 2023
We share the public’s concerns that a candidate, who has a history of objectifying women, has been cleared to participate in the upcoming Presidential Elections.
Consistently posting about “pretty girls”, recording videos of women in public without their consent, or commenting about their appearance isn’t merely a matter of personal preference or light “amusement”. It’s an act of objectifying women, reducing them solely to their appearances for their personal entertainment. Such behaviour from anyone in or aspiring to a position of influence suggests that it’s acceptable to trivialise women and overlook their myriad abilities and contributions.
But here’s a more systemic worry: The granting of a Certificate of Eligibility to such an individual doesn’t only reflect on him but suggests a systemic endorsement. It signifies that these views and behaviours are not just acceptable, but perhaps even acceptable enough for a potential presidency.
Do we want a society where behaviours that objectify half its population get a tacit nod? Or do we push for a nation that evaluates every individual beyond the surface level, acknowledging their full worth and potential? Our President should embody the values, ethics, and principles that reflect the nation we want to be.
We urge the Presidential Election Commission to thoroughly consider the broader implications of such endorsements in the future. The assessment process should not only take into account financial and management qualifications but also wider societal impacts to ensure our leadership truly upholds the values of respect, equality, and dignity for all Singaporeans.