S$738k on Campaign: Tharman Tops Presidential Election 2023 Spending

S738k on Campaign Tharman Tops Presidential Election 2023 Spending
Images via Facebook (@TharmanShanmugaratnam, @ngkoksongofficial, @kinlian)
  • S$1.1 million was spent collectively by three candidates during the nine-day Presidential Election campaign in 2023, with President Tharman Shanmugaratnam being the highest spender at S$738,717.
  • The bulk of campaign funds were allocated to both online and non-online advertising platforms.
  • For the first time in Singapore’s electoral history, the campaign expense documents were made available to the public online.

The Straits Times reports that during the 2023 Presidential Election campaign in Singapore, three main candidates collectively spent over S$1.1 million.

Of that hefty sum, S$738,717 was spent by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, making him the highest spender in this year’s campaign.

Financial Framework of 2023 Elections

Where did this cash go?

Right into advertising.

Both online and non-online platforms received the lion’s share of funds from the candidates’ campaigns.

Tech seems to be prevailing here, and it’s not easing off anytime soon.

CNA added that each candidate was permitted to splurge up to S$812,822.10 on their election expenses, based on regulations set by the Presidential Elections Act.

Phenomenal Funding

Let’s look at Tharman’s campaign.

S$800,000 in donations was the generous takeaway, surpassing his election expenses, with hopeful plans to return the surplus to the backers.

In contrast, Ng Kok Song rolled out of his pool of personal savings, investing a substantial S$312,131 in his campaign— and not getting any aids from donations.

On ‘the other side of the fence’, Tan Kin Lian’s campaign cost was considerably more modest.

Supported by more than 120 individual contributions via PayNow transactions, Tan spent the least among the contenders, with CNA stating that he received upwards of S$41,800 in donations.

Transparency in Campaign Spending

Here’s some new stuff – for the first time in our election history, campaign expense documents were openly accessible online.

No hush-hush.

Bare to the bone for people to have a look.

The Price Tag of Democracy

So why bother about such spending?


Money talks.

It influences public opinion.

It can make or break a candidate.

And it surely doesn’t come cheap.

A fine example is Tharman’s victorious campaign.

Backed by seven benefactors from remarkable positions in various sectors, his campaign lavished a good chunk of funds into non-online advertising including fliers, posters, and banners.

Interestingly, as the Business Times reports, Mr Koh Poh Tiong, the former chairman of the National Kidney Foundation, and Mr Wong Ngit Liong, the Venture Corp chief executive, were among the top benefactors, each pitching in a neat S$200,000.

As the dust settles on the 2023 Elections, we are left with a stark image of how the game plays out – only those with deep pockets can take a significant stab at the highest office in the land?

Do you reckon this revelation will cast a new light on future elections?

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