Over $1.1m spent by PE2023 candidates on campaigns, bulk of it went to advertising, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Over $1.1m spent by PE2023 candidates on campaigns, bulk of it went to advertising

Over $1.1 million was spent by the three presidential election candidates during their nine-day campaign, with the bulk of the costs going into advertising.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who won the election on Sept 1 with 70.4 per cent of the vote, spent the most at $738,717, with almost two-thirds of his expenses – $481,226 – going into non-online election advertising, which includes posters, fliers and banners.

He spent $141,865 on online election advertising.

In contrast, former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song, who ran an online and social media-focused campaign, spent $280,800 on online advertising and $1,059 on non-online ads.

He spent $312,131 in total.

The third presidential candidate, former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian, spent $71,366 in total, with $69,478 going towards non-online ads and $20 towards online ads.

These details were made available on Friday in the candidates’ elections returns that could be accessed online on the Election Department’s website.

Those interested can look up the documents online and for free for the first time for this election.

The returns will be available for inspection for six months, till April 19, 2024.

Candidates were allowed to spend up to $812,822.10 in election expenses.

This was based on the maximum spending limit in the Presidential Elections Act, which is $600,000 or 30 cents per registered voter, whichever is greater.

The bulk of Mr Tharman’s advertising costs came from the brochures that were printed and posted to households, costing his campaign $284,820.68.

He spent $150,120 on election posters and banners.

He also paid $300 for the removal of contravening banners, flags or posters. 

The Elections Department had said that any advertisements that did not adhere to stated conditions could be directed for removal by the Returning Officer.

Should this occur, candidates would have to bear the expenses to remove each unauthorised banner, flag or poster at $50 per piece. This cost would then have to be included as part of the candidates’ election expenses.

Mr Tharman’s campaign received $800,000 in donations, with $200,000 coming from Mr Koh Poh Tiong, former National Kidney Foundation chairman and another $200,000 from Mr Wong Ngit Liong, the executive chairman of the Venture Group of companies.

A spokesman for Mr Tharman’s campaign said the excess funds will be returned to donors in proportion to their donations.

For Mr Ng’s campaign, in accordance with what he had said while on the campaign trail, the returns showed that he did not receive any donations.

He had said then that he would use his personal savings to fund his campaign.

His returns showed that his expenses largely went to Gushcloud, a marketing, entertainment and talent agency. All $280,800 that he spent on online advertising was paid to the firm.

Gushcloud had provided services such as website design and development, copywriting for social media accounts and press releases, as well as video production.

Mr Ng had also paid for daily social media analytics.

For Mr Tan, he received over 120 PayNow transactions as donations for his campaign, with amounts ranging from $1 to $9,800.

The only cash donor, Bollywood Veggies founder Ivy Singh, who was spotted during the campaign showing her support for Mr Tan, contributed the largest overall donation of $9,990.

Other donors included Mr Tan’s principal election agent Prabu Ramachandran, who contested the 2020 general election with opposition party People’s Voice, as well as Mr Allan Yeo Gim Beng, a businessman who was one of Mr Tan’s assenters.

Mr Tan’s campaign expenses included the printing of 5,000 posters which cost $29,912 and were put up over the island over three days.

In 2017, former president Halimah Yacob spent $220,875, mostly on promotional materials.

In the 2011 presidential election, which was contested by four candidates, total spending hit $1.32 million. 

Winning candidate Tony Tan spent $503,070, and runner-up Tan Cheng Bock, the top spender, spent $585,045.

Mr Tan Kin Lian, who also contested in the 2011 election, spent $162,337 that year.

Singapore presidential electionElected PresidentELECTIONS DEPARTMENTTharman ShanmugaratnamNg Kok SongTan Kin Lian