Racheal Lee
Aug 29, 2011

Singapore's presidential election creates online battle

SINGAPORE – Singapore's presidential election, held on Saturday 27 August, spurred an online war, with the four candidates each taking their campaigns to different platforms in the cyber-world.

Singapore's presidential candidates took the campaign online
Singapore's presidential candidates took the campaign online

The four Tans – Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, Tony Tan, and Tan Cheng Bock – each have their own websites, blogs, Facebook pages, twitter accounts and mobile apps.

Former deputy prime minister Tony clinched victory with 744,397 votes, over ex-Ayer Rajah MP Cheng Bock (737,128 votes) by just 0.34 per cent, or 7,269 votes.

Ang Shih Huei, managing director at Pelham Bell Pottinger Asia, noted that politicians and organisations often can be intimidated to engage in social media. 

“What people don’t realise is that with the use of proper technology and tools, they can capture, cluster and recognise patterns among various topics and conversations to produce insightful analysis on themes in public opinion. This will allow them to respond in a swift and meaningful way,” she added.

A finding by Bell Pottinger’s sentiment and thematic analysis of social media for the presidential election concluded that Cheng Bock is the most 'digitally-savvy" presidential candidate, based on his activities in the cyber world.

The analysis found out the Kin Lian enjoyed average daily blog visitors of 1,282; Jee Say had an average of 5,120 visitors to his blog; Tony Tan had an average of 2,240 visits, while Cheng Bock’s count was at 2,560.

Kin Lian, Jee Say, Tony and Cheng Bock also accumulated 3,720; 10,500; 5,040 and 9,845 “likes” on their Facebook pages, respectively. They each have 575; 623; 238 and 396 followers on Twitter.

While Jee Say and Tony haven't made their way on to mobile apps, Kin Lian has seen 50 to 100 installs on Android while Cheng Bock has achieved 500 to 1,000 installs on Android and over 4,700 downloads on the iPhone.

Meanwhile, search trends research released by Yahoo Singapore showed that Tony was likely to win over Jee Say.

Overall, it saw a dramatic surge in searches around the ‘presidential polling day’ which rose 80,200 per cent for the week ending 7 August.

Individually, search on Jee Say surged by 7,353 per cent; Cheng Bock by 3,500 per cent; Tony by 7,300 per cent and Kin Lian by 600 per cent in that week.

In the lead up to the presidential election, Yahoo Singapore conducted a poll on its website on what Singaporeans expected from their president.

Close to 5,000 respondents participated in the poll with 71 per cent of the respondents voting in favour of a president "who questions government policies", while 23 per cent of the respondents stated they would like someone who would make the protection of the nation’s reserves a top priority.

Only a minority voted in favour of a passive president with 4 per cent of the respondents who wanted a newly elected president that who would be a figurehead, focusing on ceremonial duties and 2 per cent who wanted someone who will act only as advised by the cabinet.

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