The stage is set for a possible contest for the presidency later this month, with three hopefuls submitting applications to run in the election reserved for Malay candidates.
The Elections Department (ELD) yesterday confirmed the number of Malay contenders who applied to stand in the election, after the deadline at 5pm.
The trio are: former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 63; Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican, 67; and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 61.
They had already submitted applications for a certificate of eligibility and a community certificate - which are required to contest the election - last month.
Besides applications from the trio, the ELD said yesterday it received two other applications that will be rejected. They are from private-hire driver Shirwin Eu, 34, who applied for a Chinese community certificate, and former private tutor Ooi Boon Ewe, 76, who declared in his application that he did not consider himself a member of the Chinese, Malay, Indian or other minority communities.
Noting that the upcoming election is reserved for Malays, the ELD said: "The Community Committee must reject a community declaration if the declarant does not state that he considers himself to be a member of the community to which the election is reserved."
The latest day the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) has to announce its decision on who qualifies to run for the presidency.
Nomination Day. In the event that only one person qualifies, he or she will be declared president.
The day more than 2.5 million voters will go to the polls if the PEC rules that more than one candidate qualifies.
Mr Eu and Mr Ooi have tried, unsuccessfully, to stand in previous elections. Mr Eu collected forms ahead of the Bukit Batok by-election last year and the September 2015 General Election, while Mr Ooi has tried to run in presidential elections since 1999.
In the coming days, the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) will scrutinise the applications by Madam Halimah, Mr Salleh and Mr Farid, and decide who qualifies to run for the presidency. It has up to Sept 12, the eve of Nomination Day, to announce its decision.
Madam Halimah is the only contender to automatically qualify, having served as Speaker of Parliament for more than three years.
Mr Salleh and Mr Farid fall short of the requirement for private-sector candidates to have run a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity for the most recent three years.
However, the PEC has the discretion to allow them to stand if it is satisfied that they have comparable experience and ability to someone who meets the criteria.
Yesterday, both Mr Salleh and Mr Farid said they were confident the PEC would give them the nod.
"It will be a good contest if the three of us qualify," said Mr Farid.
Mr Salleh said: "I am confident that there will be a contest and I will be eligible to run. My team and I are busy with the preparations."
Madam Halimah declined to comment when approached.
If the PEC rules that more than one contender qualifies, more than 2.5 million voters will go to the polls to pick a new head of state on Sept 23. But in the event that only one person qualifies, that person will be declared president on Nomination Day on Sept 13.