Presidential Election and the 3 winners who lost the race...

You're getting closer. Keep it up, and soon enough you'll figure out. You can't write if you can't relate.

(The above 3 sentences are part of the lyrics of the below songs respectively.)

Change the word 'write' to 'politicize'. And that will be even more appropriate in the context of this post. Perhaps it may be too harsh to say the 3 losers of the Presidential Election couldn't relate to the voters. I mean, yeah, the winner President Dr Tony Tan might have secured only 35.19% which Mr Tan Jee Say--somewhat arrogantly I feel--urged Dr Tan to reflect on why 65 per cent of Singaporeans did not vote for him.

But let's be fair! Apply the same logic here. I'd urge Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Tan Jee Say, and Mr Tan Kin Lian to reflect on why respectively 65.15%, 74.98%, and 95.09% of Singaporeans did not for them.

So there.

And let me end this post with this quote by Richard Nixon: "You must never be satisfied with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry, about losing. But the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not his victorious opponents or on his teammates."

Had it been down to a straight fight with former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan, Dr Tan Cheng Bock felt he would have stood a "much better chance" in the Presidential Election (PE).

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 71, said: "I'd like to believe that those who voted for Jee Say and Kin Lian, they're unlikely to vote for Tony. But I'll expect more spoilt votes then."

Dr Tan also revealed how close the fight between the two frontrunners was as the last votes were being counted.

He said: "We were neck to neck all the way. Sometimes I'm ahead, sometimes he's ahead."

Dr Tan Cheng Bock added that the race was too close to call even until the point when about 80 per cent of the total votes cast were counted. At that point, "we were both at 35 per cent", he added.

He said he believed that it was the votes from Sembawang - which Dr Tony Tan used to represent as an MP - that gave Dr Tony Tan a push towards the finish line. When asked if he thought he could have done better, Dr Tan Cheng Bock said: "I think I've done my best. I've covered all the ground and all my men have done a very good job."

'PAP split right down to the middle' over PE

Dr Tan Cheng Bock noted that although he had used social media during his campaign to connect with young Singaporeans, it was the mailers which he had sent out to homes all over the island that proved effective. He said: "Without them, many people would not have known about me."

Dr Tan said he believed many in the People's Action Party voted for him, especially those in the grassroots. Claiming there is "definitely a division in the PAP", the former PAP member said: "Many of the grassroots openly tell me they support me ... it's reflected in the votes. We were so close. The PAP is split right down the middle."

When asked if contesting the election has soured his relationship with the PAP, Dr Tan said: "We have to accept there are differences of opinion. Some are very close to the party and that all depends ... many old MPs have also come out to support me. It's two camps ... so it's quite level."

Dr Tan Cheng Bock reiterated that Dr Tony Tan - who received 35.19 per cent of the votes - has his work cut out for him and that the ruling party will have to take a "critical look at their own way of doing things".

Several political watchers have suggested that Dr Tony Tan invite Dr Tan Cheng Bock to sit on the Council of Presidential Advisers.

At his press conference yesterday, Dr Tony Tan said in response to the suggestion that he would consider who to nominate to the council later when he formally assumes the highest office in the land.

On his part, Dr Tan Cheng Bock said if he were approached by Dr Tony Tan, he would have to "think carefully". He added: "It depends on whether we share common ground ... It's quite a serious decision."

On his plans, Dr Tan Cheng Bock said he would not be joining any political parties as he wants to continue "unifying Singaporeans". He also said he may go back to medical practice and continue to monitor developments in Singapore. Through his Facebook and blog, he will continue to contribute comments and suggestions on various issues. He added: "As ex-politicians, we don't just slowly fade away."

From Today, "'I would have done better in a straight fight'".

IF It had only been a two-way fight - Dr Tan Cheng Bock would have won, said his supporters.

It was a neck-and-neck race between him and former deputy prime minister Tony Tan all the way until about 4.30 this morning.

After a recount that started after 1am today, Dr Tan garnered 737,128, or 34.85 per cent of the valid votes.

He lost by 0.34 per cent, or 7,269 votes to Dr Tony Tan's 744, 397.

This result might not have been so, had the other two candidates withdrawn from the race.

Dr Tan's principal election agent, MrG. K. Singam, 73, told The New Paper on Sunday: "The entrance of Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian as candidates definitely diluted Dr Tan's vote.

"If it had just been a two-way fight, Dr Tony Tan would have definitely lost."

Another member of Dr Tan's campaign team, who declined to be named, said: "If Mr Tan Jee Say did not contest, then Dr Tan would have surely won."

Singapore Management University (SMU) assistant law professor Eugene Tan said there were several reasons why Dr Tan Cheng Bock lost to Dr Tony Tan.

One was that "he was seen as being aligned with the PAP, notwithstanding his efforts at distancing himself".

The second was that Dr Tony Tan was better known, and the tacit endorsement for him from the Government gave him an advantage.

Said Mr Tan: "They were both drawing votes from the same voting bloc, with Dr Tony Tan perceived as having stronger credentials, particularly in economic and financial matters." Despite this, Mr Tan had praise for his campaign.

He described it as a "steady and confident campaign" that "grew from strength to strength, and slowly but surely captured the imagination of Singaporeans".

Mr Tan also felt that if campaigning had gone on for "another few days, the likelihood of Dr Tan Cheng Bock's victory may well be greater".

Pointing out some of the campaign's highlights, he said Dr Tan's messages on unity and the need to unify Singapore and Singaporeans were a reflection of the "seasoned politician" in him.

Dr Tan had stressed during his campaign that he saw the role of president as a "unifying figure" to bring people together.

Mr Tan also noted Dr Tan's ability to reach out and engage Singaporeans from all walks of life.

"The ability to bridge divides made his candidacy even more valuable," he said.

Senior research fellow Dr Gillian Koh of the Institute of Policy Studies said on air yesterday that Dr Tan's message of multiculturalism was a "powerful one" and "central to the Singapore identity".

She also felt that Dr Tan had a broad base and tugged at voters' heartstrings.

Mr Tan added that it was at Dr Tan's "unifying rally" that this ability was demonstrated - 13 ordinary Singaporeans spoke about how he impacted their lives.

If he had to pick a "high" in Dr Tan's campaign, Mr Tan said the rally was it.

Unifying Singapore

"It was not about criticising government policies, or stoking anger, angst and frustration. It was about people coming together to work towards the good of Singapore. There (at the rally) the thrust of his campaign as unifying Singapore became tangible; real," he said.

And out of the four rallies, his stood out as it was the only one to use sign language to communicate with the hearing-impaired.

Yesterday, as he visited about 10 polling centres around the island through the day, he was greeted warmly and even saluted at some of the polling stations.

Staying consistent with the image he portrayed throughout his campaign, his gentlemanly manner was evident yesterday.

When Mr Kelvin Chng, a photographer with The New Paper on Sunday, slipped and fell yesterday, Dr Tan rushed to help him up.

He also asked Mr Chng several times after that if he was fine.

In the afternoon, Dr Tan met fellow candidate Dr Tony Tan.

When the latter asked if they could shake hands, Dr Tan replied: "Sure."

Dignified to the end, Dr Tan showed that the campaign was beyond himself.

His campaign symbol, a palm tree, directed people to think about Singapore's multiracial society rather than just him.

He had said that even if he lost, he would "walk out of the Presidential Election honourably and feel proud" about doing a good job.

Addressing his supporters at Jurong East Stadium this morning, he said: "So we've lost. But we've also won...I won't close my door.

"I won't stop here. I'll continue to engage Singaporeans. In our own special way, we must always be a family. Go home, thank you so much for coming."

From Asiaone, "To the end he remains dignified".

Mr Tan Jee Say has congratulated President-elect Dr Tony Tan for having won the election.

Mr Tan said he looks forward to Dr Tan performing the duties and responsibilities of the office of President in a fair and honourable manner. He also congratulated Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Kin Lian for their earnest campaign.

Mr Tan, who said this in a statement on Sunday, noted that Dr Tony Tan has pledged to work for all Singaporeans, including those who did not vote for him. He urged Dr Tan to reflect on why 65 per cent of Singaporeans did not vote for him and to consider their concerns and interests.

He said one such main concern is the transparency over Singapore's national reserves, adding that Singaporeans want to know how much are in the reserves and how they have been invested.

Mr Tan urged Dr Tan to use the moral authority of the President to do positive things for Singaporeans and unify the nation.

He said the President must work with the government to put the happiness of all Singaporeans at the heart of every government policy.

Mr Tan, who described the presidential election as a well-fought campaign, added that he will continue to contribute to the nation.

From Channel NewsAsia, "PE: Tan Jee Say congratulates Tony Tan".

At about 1.30am, when it became apparent that he was no longer in the running for the highest office in the land, presidential candidate Tan Jee Say - who had refused to concede defeat until then - congratulated the new President-elect for a good fight and a campaign well done.

But in giving his assessment of his own performance, Mr Tan, 57, felt that if he had more time to explain himself to people, he would have garnered more votes.

Speaking at a press conference held on the field at Bedok Stadium as a recount was underway Mr Tan conceded that his public persona had been a difficult one to shake off and that, given only the nine days of campaigning, the public image of him as someone who is "confrontational" might have cost him votes.

Mr Tan, an investment adviser, pointed out that "midway" through the campaign, "more people began to know more about me and what I stood for, and I was able to reply to many of the criticisms, allegations against me".

He added: "If I had been given a longer period of time, I would have been able to convince more people. But the period is quite short, so it's not easy within that period to reach out to so many people."

Mr Tan's long-time friend, Dr Ang Yong Guan, who was also at the stadium, concurred.

"He toned it down towards the end ... but I think the label had stuck," said Dr Ang, who had run alongside Mr Tan as a Singapore Democratic Party candidate in May's General Election.

Mr Tan said three months of campaigning - as is practised in some countries - would have been a "more reasonable" time-frame for voters to scrutinise the candidates better.

And, while he acknowledged that he had a lot of support in cyberspace, he wished online penetration was higher.

Mr Tan charged that the mainstream media, especially one newspaper which he did not name, had tried to paint him as confrontational right up to Polling Day. "Despite my trying to say that I am not ... it's the image that has been created," he said.

Earlier, Mr Tan had appeared upbeat about his chances after he visited the counting centres at the Singapore Chinese Girls' School and Admiralty Secondary School.

But as he emerged from a third counting centre at Dunman Secondary School at around 10.45pm, news filtered out that he was out of the running.

National Solidarity Party's Nicole Seah, who was supporting Mr Tan in her personal capacity and was his counting agent, told reporters that Mr Tan had done particularly well "in some areas in the east".

She said: "All of us are very proud of him. It was a very good fight. So while we hoped that he could have been our next President, we can accept the results and look forward to greater things."

Moving forward, Mr Tan - who had resigned from the SDP to contest in the Presidential Election - was tight-lipped about whether he would rejoin the Opposition.

He said: "I will have to talk to my supporters and talk to various people before deciding on the concrete action to take."

Thanking his supporters, Mr Tan said: "In our hearts, we knew long ago that, win or lose, we had already a victory of hearts … You are already giving Singaporeans a voice, a voice that has been heard, and will continue to be heard."

Mr Tan felt that the fact that a majority of voters did not vote for Dr Tony Tan - who had the strongest links to the ruling People's Action Party - showed that "they wanted a President that could provide checks and balances on the Government".

Congratulating the President-elect, Mr Tan said: "I hope he will take into consideration the views of Singaporeans, the views expressed ... and not just be restricted to the role of the President as specified in the Constitution but use his moral authority - the soft powers - to unite Singaporeans and do positive things for Singaporeans."

From Today, "If only I had more time: Tan Jee Say".

The 40 per cent opposition vote in the May General Election (GE) did not translate into support for losing presidential candidate Tan Jee Say yesterday.

He got 25.04 per cent of the votes, coming in third.

The winner, Dr Tony Tan got 35.19 per cent. Dr Tan Cheng Bock who came in second got 34.85 per cent. MrTan Kin Lian came in last with 4.91 per cent.

Speaking to reporters at Bedok Stadium around 1.30am today before the results were announced, MrTan Jee Say, a former senior civil servant, said that if there was to be a winner other than him, he preferred Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

Mr Tan said it had been a "good fight" and that the trust gained from his supporters will "never be misplaced".

He also believed that his seemingly confrontational image had indeed cost him votes.

Mr Tan added he wished he had three months to campaign for his presidential bid.

"You can scrutinise candidates better. I am not confrontational. That's an image that has been created. I had not gone on the streets to throw stones."

People who voted for the Opposition in the GE would not simply vote for a former opposition man in the Presidential Election (PE), said Dr Reuben Wong, an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore.

"With the media blitz and debates that have been taking place, Singaporeans have been made to think more about the role of the Elected President," Dr Wong said.

Sensible voters

He believed that Singaporeans were sensible enough to differentiate between the two kinds of elections: The GE, which emphasises party platforms and policies, and the PE which stresses ceremonial and custodial roles.

"Singaporeans know that you don't vote for a president for the purpose of performing checks on the Government, which was a platform Tan Jee Say campaigned very much upon," Dr Wong said.

Associate Professor Cherian George at the Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information said Mr Tan's candidacy probably worked to rival Dr Tan Cheng Bock's advantage.

"Mr Tan Jee Say might have directed votes which did not favour Dr Tony Tan towards Dr Tan Cheng Bock, because he came across as too confrontational or too young," said Dr George.

Dr Wong added that Mr Tan also lost because of his inability to convince voters that he was above party politics.

The 57-year-old stressed throughout his campaign that he did not have "emotional ties" to the People's Action Party (PAP), having never been a member of it.

But this might not have worked to his advantage, Dr Wong asserted.

"In addition to the enduring image that he is confrontational, he couldn't convincingly answer to the charge that presidents should not be partisan and be above party politics.

"In my opinion, he wasn't able to assure voters that he would not discriminate against the PAP," he said.

But Dr George said Singaporeans should not forget who Mr Tan was up against.

"Dr Tony Tan is a household name, and Dr Tan Cheng Bock relatively well-known.

"To even get a single percentage point away from these candidates is something that is extremely difficult," he said.

The father of four had been optimistic about his chances throughout Polling Day.

Earlier, after casting his vote at St Stephen's School at Siglap View, Mr Tan felt that his views had "resonated with the people".

The intermittent downpour yesterday did little to dampen the spirits of Mr Tan, who commented that he saw the showers as a blessing.

He added that his wife was his lucky charm.

The Oxford University graduate studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics on a government scholarship before joining the civil service for 11 years.

He later joined the private finance sector, and is currently an investment advisor. He stood in this year's GE as a candidate with the opposition Singapore Democratic Party. So will we see him in the next election?

Said Mr Tan: "I will have to talk to my supporters and see what role I can play."

From Asiaone, "Lack of opposition votes costs him".

Candidate Tan Jee Say all but conceded defeat this morning, attributing his loss to what he said was a short campaign period and his portrayal by the media as confrontational.

He also lacked brand recognition among older Singaporeans and said he would have preferred it if he had greater online penetration.

Speaking to reporters at Bedok Stadium at about 1.30am just as the Elections Department announced there would be a vote recount, Mr Tan, 57, said he was not conceding just yet as he could do so only when the official results are out.

But in comments that had all the ingredients of a concession speech, he thanked supporters for 'giving me your trust' and said his opponents had put up a good fight.

From Straits Times, "Campaign time was too short, says Tan Jee Say".

Less than two hours after the counting of the votes got underway, Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, 63, already knew his chance of becoming the Republic's next President was all but gone.

At 10.15pm, after visiting a third counting centre at Anderson Primary School, he conceded defeat.

The former NTUC Income chief executive officer, who started his career in 1966 in the actuarial department of a life insurance company, said: "I'm a statistician, so I know from those analyses that I will lose this election."

Mr Tan, who had campaigned on the platform of being the "voice of the people", garnered 4.91 per cent of votes - which means he will forfeit his S$48,000 deposit. A candidate must have more than 12.5 per cent of the votes to get his deposit back.

Later, speaking to reporters at a supporter's house, Mr Tan said he was somewhat disappointed, but he believed that he had put up a good fight. He had also expected to do much better, he added.

Asked if he would run again in any election, Mr Tan, who had spent between S$60,000 and S$70,000 on his campaign, said: "By next election, I'll be 69. I'll have to consider if I'm too old by then. But I'm open to future contests."

Mr Tan's supporters, numbering about 50, had gathered at a family friend's house at Begonia Drive in Yio Chu Kang for the election results. They were later joined by Mr Tan.

The mood remained relatively jovial, with laughter breaking out occasionally even as disappointing news of Mr Tan's performance in the polls spread.

The gathering broke up at 1.15am before the official results were announced as Mr Tan said "it was getting late".

With the front-runners clear, he said both Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock have "great strengths to represent the people of Singapore".

Mr Tan's daughter, Ms Tan Su Ling, 35, said: "It was quiet (in the house when they first heard of the results) but people were not sad. It was disappointing but we've put up a good fight. It was a good cause and we are proud of that."

The owner of Bollywood Veggies farm, Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, who also spoke at Mr Tan's election rally, said: "We tried our best and he (Mr Tan) did a good job … he didn't get zero votes, so there are people listening to him and people agreeing with him."

Thanking his supporters and voters, Mr Tan said: "I want to thank all those who have voted for me. The campaign has been a good experience for my campaign team and for me … I will continue to be the voice of the people through other channels and I want to ask all those who support that idea to come forward."

Mr Tan said he will set up a website called the "Voice of the People", where he will invite Singaporeans to give their feedback.

He will also "put in place a process to handle these feedback" on issues affecting large numbers of people, such as housing and transport.

When asked what could have gone wrong in his campaign, Mr Tan said: "Most of them (Singaporeans) are not aware of the candidates and the platform. Perhaps nine days of campaigning is too short."

Asked if he may have lost some votes to former senior civil servant Tan Jee Say, Mr Tan said: "I have campaigned on a different platform. I have never campaigned on an Opposition platform. So I don't think I have lost that vote. I wanted to reach out to Singaporeans who want someone who is neutral and non-partisan. I think that message has not gone through."

Mr Tan was a People's Action Party member for 30 years but left in 2008 because he said that he disagreed with the party's value system.

After throwing his hat into the ring, there was speculation that Mr Tan might withdraw from the race before Nomination Day to avoid splitting the votes with Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say.

However, Mr Tan Kin Lian duly filed his nomination papers on Aug 17, saying that many people had encouraged him to contest because they wanted a completely non-partisan candidate.

From Today, "Disappointed, but Tan Kin Lian will continue to be 'voice of the people'".

He championed the investors' cause when they lost their life savings during the 2008 economic meltdown and mini-bonds crisis.

But yesterday, presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, 63, ended up losing money. He forfeited $48,000 - the deposit each of the four hopefuls gunning to be Singapore's seventh president had to put up.

The former NTUC Income chief garnered 103,931 votes, or 4.91 per cent of votes, less than the 12.5 per cent required to keep his money.

The winner, Dr Tony Tan, 71, received 744,397 votes, or 35.19 per cent.

Failure had a price.

Besides the election deposit, Mr Tan spent close to $70,000 on the campaign trail, his son, Boon Keng, 28, told The New Paper on Sunday.

Conceding defeat 2 1/2 hours after voting closed, Mr Tan told the media gathered at his supporter's Begonia Drive house: "I'm somewhat disappointed..."

He added: "Whatever the result, it's a win for Singapore...Both Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock have great strengths to represent the people of Singapore as president. I wish them all the best and I would like to give them any views or assistance they may need from me."

His poor showing was expected, said Nanyang Technological University associate professor Cherian George.

He said: "Tan Kin Lian had some experience as an activist, but no experience as a politician, so it was hard for him to translate his beliefs into an effective campaign."

Political observer and Singapore Management University law lecturer Eugene Tan said the four-cornered fight affected Mr Tan's chances.

He said: "In a crowded field, he became the forgotten candidate. Perhaps he suffered from a credibility problem right from the word go.

"His 2009 effort to secure 100,000 signatures before he would run for presidency did not succeed. His decision to run in 2011 was greeted with some amount of doubt and incredulity."

"(As the bottom candidate,) Tan Kin Lian was outflanked on the right by Tan Cheng Bock and on the left by Tan Jee Say," said Dr George.

In the end, Mr Tan's pledge to be the voice of Singaporeans fell short at the polls. During campaigning, he had highlighted his record of speaking out on people's behalf.

"While he's seen as someone who spoke up for investors who were misled, the good Samaritan or David vs Goliath approach did not necessarily translate to wider perceptions of suitability for the President's office," said Prof Tan.

On the morning of Polling Day, Mr Tan had said the loss of his deposit would be "quite unexpected".

Asked about his chances then, a relaxed Mr Tan had said: "I believe this contest will be very close...There is a large group of people in the silent majority making a decision and I am quite confident that I will do well."

His homemaker wife, Mrs Vivian Tan, 55, added: "It's fate. There's nothing to worry about."

Husband and wife turned up at Pei Hwa Secondary School, their designated voting centre, around 10.20am yesterday. While the high-fives continued into the night, the mood in Mr Tan's camp had turned sombre.

Daughter Su Ling, 35, said: "That's what real courage is, to run even if the odds are against him. We're proud of him."

National University of Singapore political analyst Reuben Wong attributed Mr Tan's loss to some mis-steps, including the latter's decision to stay on the General Election sidelines in May.

Without a natural constituency, Mr Tan's lack of support from the opposition parties hurt his chances, too, Dr Wong added.

Other low points, which Mr Tan himself highlighted, were former civil servant Tan Jee Say's entry into the presidential fray.

Asked if Mr Tan Jee Say's campaign had affected him, Mr Tan said early this morning: "I've campaigned on a different platform...I wanted to reach out to Singaporeans who want to have someone who is neutral and non-partisan. I think the message hasn't gone through."

The turning point in Mr Tan Kin Lian's campaign came when he offered "populist proposals", said Prof Tan.

He added: "These were not really within the ambit of the elected presidency's office as delineated in the Constitution. But the proposals thrown up made him look opportunistic and that only took more wind out of his sail at the closing stages of the campaign."

By 9.40pm last night, as Mr Tan left Tampines North Primary School, he admitted: "It doesn't look good."

He conceded he lost the fight less than an hour later after leaving Anderson Primary School.

But it is not the end of the road for the visibly tired grandfather, who had been up since 5am.

He plans to set up a Voice of the People website and has not written off a future presidential or parliamentary bid: "This experience has been very good for me to learn about contesting an election, so I am open to future contests."

I want to know what can be improved. I don't know why (I lost) and I hope people will tell me. I want to hear their reason."

From Asiaone, "He was outflanked".

He should, perhaps, have cut down on the 'high five' greetings and been more conscious of his excessive blinking.

Former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian, a losing candidate in the presidential race, listed these 'negative points' of his campaign, culled from an online feedback exercise he conducted.

'I was disappointed with my low score in the presidential campaign. Please share your feedback in this survey,' he said on his blog at 2.15am yesterday - before the official results were announced, and nearly four hours after he conceded defeat.

Eight hours and more than 100 responses later, he revealed the top six negatives and top five positives of a campaign that had cost him his $48,000 election deposit.

From Straits Times, "'High five and excessive blinking hurt Tan Kin Lian's campaign'".

Mr Tan Kin Lian, the former NTUC Income chief who contested and lost his deposit at the recent Presidential Election, said he admits there were a few weaknesses in his campaign strategy, image and messaging.

Releasing a statement on Wednesday on his campaign, he said running for the election cost him and his donors $120,000, which includes the election deposit of $48,000.

He added that it also cost him a dent to his reputation as he "become the candidate with the least votes".

He also referred to online chatter saying he should have withdrawn on Nomination Day.

Mr Tan said he went ahead to contest on Nomination Day, ignoring an online poll which showed he had low levels of support.

The former NTUC Income chief said he had banked on support from the more than 1 million NTUC Income policyholders, heartlanders and those whom he spoke up for during the recent financial crisis.

Adding that voters on Nomination Day were also still undecided, he said "wisdom of hindsight never fails".

He said he had already congratulated Dr Tony Tan for winning a hard-fought contest.

From Channel NewsAsia, "PE: Tan Kin Lian admits weaknesses in campaign strategy".


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