Presidential election called, Nomination Day on Sept 13

(From left) Presidential hopefuls Salleh Marican, Halimah Yacob and Farid Khan.
(From left) Presidential hopefuls Salleh Marican, Halimah Yacob and Farid Khan. PHOTOS: ST FILE

Elections committee to check if candidates meet criteria, and inform them by Sept 12

Singaporeans will vote for their eighth president on Sept 23, if more than one person qualifies to run for the position.

The winning candidate will be the second Malay president in Singapore's history, and the first to be chosen in a presidential election reserved for candidates of a specific community.

But whether the nation's 2.5 million eligible voters get to cast their vote at all hinges on the Presidential Elections Committee.

It screens all presidential hopefuls to see whether they meet the required criteria and will inform them of its decision by Sept 12.

If only one candidate qualifies, he or she will be declared the president on Nomination Day, Sept 13. Otherwise, a contest is on the cards.

The contenders will be nominated at People's Association headquarters at 9, King George's Avenue.

These details were given by the Elections Department (ELD) yesterday when it announced that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had issued the Writ of Election.

PM Lee later stressed in a Facebook post the significance of the reserved election, saying it is important in a multiracial country for every citizen to "know someone of his community can... and does become president from time to time, and thus represent all Singaporeans".

In the event of a contest, Polling Day, which is Sept 23, will be a public holiday. The Returning Officer will be Mr Ng Wai Choong, chief executive of the Energy Market Authority.

Three people have stepped forward to potentially join the contest: marine services firm chairman Farid Khan, 61; former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 63; and property company chief executive Salleh Marican, 67.

Mr Farid and Mr Salleh handed in their forms last week, although neither qualify to run automatically.

Mr Salleh said yesterday in a statement that he is confident of getting the green light, adding that he will be independent of political parties and other organisations.

Mr Farid is confident as well that he will qualify.

To get the nod to run, the potential candidates have to apply for a certificate of eligibility, and a community certificate confirming that they belong to the Malay community. Both applications must reach the ELD by 5pm next Monday.

Candidates also have to apply for a political donation certificate from the ELD by Sept 9.

The final document needed is the nomination paper. It must be signed by the candidate and a proposer, seconder, and at least four assentors.

The candidates must submit their nomination paper, and all three certificates, in person between 11am and noon on Nomination Day. They must also pay an election deposit of $43,500.

A new feature in this election is a form for candidates to voluntarily undertake to conduct their campaign in a dignified and decorous manner consistent with the president's position as the head of state and the symbol of national unity.

These signed undertakings will be made public, with the nomination papers and certificates, on Nomination Day.

When President Tony Tan Keng Yam's term ends on Thursday, Mr J.Y. Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, will be Acting President until the new president is sworn in.

PM Lee, in his Facebook post, expressed the hope that "Singaporeans will support the candidate who will best represent their interests and aspirations, and our nation".

"Not just at home, but internationally too," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Presidential election called, Nomination Day on Sept 13'. Print Edition | Subscribe