Forum: Elections committee does not select candidates for president

The Elections Department at Prinsep Link, taken on Jan 30, 2019.
The Elections Department at Prinsep Link, taken on Jan 30, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

I refer to the commentary by The Straits Times' opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong (PAP and the politics of dominance, Oct 13).

It states: "The presidency is directly elected, but the Government has influence over the selection of candidates via the Presidential Elections Committee."

This statement is incorrect and gives the wrong impression of how the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) functions.

First, the PEC does not select candidates. Its mandate is to determine whether a person is qualified to be elected as president by applying the criteria set out in the Constitution. It has no discretion to prevent any qualified person from standing as a candidate.

Second, the Government cannot influence the decisions of the PEC. The PEC acts solely based on the criteria laid out in the Constitution.

Finally, the PEC is an independent body, the composition of which is set out in the Constitution. It comprises the chairman of the Public Service Commission, who chairs the PEC; the chairman of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority; and four other members appointed by the chairman of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, the Chief Justice and the Prime Minister, respectively.

The Prime Minister is required to appoint a person with expertise and experience acquired in the private sector that are relevant to the functions of the PEC.

Tay Chai Luan

Senior Assistant Director

Political Donations and Communications

Elections Department

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2019, with the headline 'Elections committee does not select candidates for president'. Subscribe