By Koh Hui Theng and Alvin Lim
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.