LIKE many Singaporeans, I watched the campaigning for the presidency closely and with great interest. All four candidates maintained a high standard of courtesy and respect for each other.
While they were vigorous and robust in conveying their views, they were careful to focus on the issues and not on the personalities.
I stayed up to watch the results of the election last weekend. When Mr Tan Kin Lian conceded, he did so graciously.
Then came Mr Tan Jee Say. While he did not immediately concede the election, he was gracious in acknowledging that he was not a front runner at that point in time.
When it was obvious to Dr Tan Cheng Bock that the final count was going to be razor-thin between him and Dr Tony Tan, the former gently conveyed the need for a recount. It did not sound at all like a demand to which he was fully entitled.
Reading the concession statements of the candidates on Monday, I am encouraged by the gentlemanly way each of the three candidates accepted defeat.
Mr Tan Kin Lian freely admitted his tactical mistakes.
Mr Tan Jee Say defended his campaign with a clear sense of personal belief and responsibility in offering voters 'a real choice'.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock maintained his sense of humour in spite of what must have been a painful defeat.
He showed remarkable gumption by pledging to continue his personal mission to be a unifying figure for Singaporeans.
Dr Tony Tan was magnanimous in victory. In recognising the talents of his rivals and thanking them for their 'robust and spirited campaigns', he set the standard for collegiality in the high-stakes contest for the highest elected public office.
By publicly soliciting and welcoming Dr Tan Cheng Bock's input, President Tan is signalling a new era of collaboration in the wake of the plurality of views in the political process.
What I observed during and after the presidential election gives me great hope in our collective journey towards a more gracious Singapore.
Koh Poh Tiong
Singapore Kindness Movement