Presidential hopefuls can pick up application forms on June 1

This year's presidential election is reserved for Malay candidates.
This year's presidential election is reserved for Malay candidates.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Candidates can start applying to enter the September presidential race from Thursday (June 1), in the lead-up to Singapore's first presidential election reserved for Malay candidates.

Changes to the law, published in the Government gazette on Wednesday, spelt out how the election will be run.

These included the new or revised forms which candidates must submit, and the financial procedures for calculating the shareholder equity of a company.

The procedures put into effect the constitutional changes passed in November 2016, to tighten the criteria for presidential candidates and reserve elections for a particular racial group that has not been represented in the office after five consecutive terms.

Applications will close on the fifth day after the Writ of Election is issued in late August, giving potential candidates at least 2 1/2 months to file their papers.

They can get the forms from the Election Department (ELD) website and office from June 1.

They will be notified of whether they qualify before Nomination Day, when all successful candidates will be announced.

Paperwork needed

Aspiring candidates must apply for two certificates this election: a certificate of eligibility, and a community certificate declaring them a member of the Malay community.

They need both papers to run.

Candidates from the private sector must submit financial statements according to accepted accounting standards, to show their company had at least $500 million in shareholders' equity for the most recent three years they helmed it.

They must also show the company made profit after tax on average for their entire time in charge.

Candidates must also make a statutory declaration, included as a new clause in the nomination papers they must file, that they understand the role of the president under the Constitution.

An explanation on the role of the president is included in their papers.

If successfully nominated, candidates' application forms will be made public on Nomination Day.

The Constitutional Commission which studied changes to the elected presidency in 2016 recommended this practice to discourage candidates from exaggerating their credentials, and encourage transparency.

Additionally, candidates can opt to sign an undertaking that they will campaign for election in a dignified manner in keeping with the president's position as head of state and a symbol of national unity.

The public will be able to see on Nomination Day who signed, and who did not.

Due to the complexity of information required, candidates will get more time to submit their papers, and the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) will have more time to go through them.

The PEC will be headed by Public Service Commission chairman Eddie Teo. Its members are Ms Lim Soo Hoon, chairman of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority; Professor Chan Heng Chee, member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights; Mr Po'ad Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar, member of the Council of Presidential Advisers; Justice Tay Yong Kwang, a Judge of Appeal; and Mr Peter Seah, a member from the private sector appointed by the prime minister.

Other changes

The ELD also announced the members of the Community Committee in a press statement on Wednesday (May 31).

The committee assesses which racial group candidates belong to for the purposes of the election. Applicants must declare which community they consider themselves a part of, and the relevant sub-committee will issue a certificate if it agrees.

Heading the committee is Mr Timothy James de Souza, a member of the Presidential Council of Minority Rights.

He oversees the sub-committees for the Chinese community, Malay community, and Indian and other minority communities. All have five members each.

The Malay community sub-committee will be chaired by Mr Imram Mohamed. Its other members are Madam Fatimah Azimullah, Mr Alami Musa, Mr Yatiman Yusof, and Mr Zulkifli Baharudin.