SINGAPORE — Political parties typically do not actively campaign for a specific candidate in a presidential election, as it differs significantly from a general election. However, party members are not prohibited from endorsing or supporting any potential presidential hopeful in their personal capacity.
In the campaign guidelines released by the Elections Department, it is stated that; ‘The President should remain above the political fray. It is not his role to support or oppose the Government of the day or to advance his own agenda or policies.’
The candidates are also encouraged to conduct their election campaign in a manner that is ‘dignified, decorous and consistent with the President’s position as the head of state and the symbol of national unity.’
Former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian, who is running for the presidency for the second time, gained the endorsement of Tan Jee Say, who previously ran in the Singapore general elections in 2020 and 2011 with the Singapore Democratic Party. Jee Say is Tan’s proposer, while Lim Tean, the leader of the opposition party People’s Voice, was named as Tan’s seconder for his presidential nomination.
Lim, who was present at Tan Kin Lian’s campaign launch last week, said that he hopes there will be more Singaporeans coming forward to support Tan Kin Lian’s campaign in the coming days as there is a need to rally around a non-establishment candidate.
“I feel that all the opposition parties are united in their thinking that they want an independent president. I am hoping that all the supporters of the opposition parties will come together and support Tan Kin Lian as the independent president,” shared Lim with The Independent Singapore.
“As this is the presidential contest and political parties can’t be involved as political parties, there is no stopping the members from coming forward to support. I am here supporting Tan Kin Lian not as the leader of the Peoples Voice but as a Singaporean.”
Currently, there are three other presidential hopefuls in the race alongside Tan Kin Lian. They are former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, businessman George Goh, and ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song.
Opposition member Abdul Salim has also decided to register as a volunteer for a potential presidential candidate. Salim and his friends were at Peninsula Excelsior Hotel over the weekend, where Goh’s team held a two-day volunteer registration drive.
Salim believes that it is crucial to have an independent president who understands their role to protect the interest of Singapore while at the same time maintaining a healthy working relationship with those in government.
“I believe that it is extremely important for Singapore to have an independent president as there are many things which are at stake. For example, the elected president is the second key to our reserves and has the power to check on the government,” said Salim, who stood as a candidate for the Workers’ Party at Ang Mo Kio GRC in 2006 and at Marine Parade GRC with the National Solidarity Party at the following elections.
“Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each side is important to avoid any conflicts and misunderstandings between both parties. At the end of the day, both the president and the government are working for the best interests of Singapore and the people. So no matter what the issue is, they have to have good relations with one another.”
On Sunday, Second Chance Properties Ltd founder and CEO Salleh Marican gave his endorsement to former GIC chief investment officer Ng. Prior to this, Ng also disclosed that former Foreign Minister George Yeo was listed as one of the three character references in the forms submitted by Ng to the election department.
Salleh wants the younger generation of Singaporeans to understand that they are currently living in a first-world country, but things can go south, and that is why it’s important to choose a truly independent president.
“You see how dangerous it is for the ruling party when they are in power, especially when they control parliament with the majority, they can easily make changes. This is why an independent president is very critical. Very important that we must have,” explained Salleh who failed to receive his certificate of eligibility to contest the 2017 Presidential Election.
“It is very risky, highly unadvisable, for a member of the ruling party to be the president of Singapore. So far we are lucky, Nothing serious happened in the past. So if you want to think properly about what independence is, it can only be tested in a crisis.”
Unlike Tan, Ng has not made his list of proposers and seconders known. He mentioned that this would only be revealed on nomination day.
For Tharman, he made known his full slate of proposer, seconder, and eight assentors during his campaign launch for the presidency. Thomas Chua, a former nominated member of parliament and president of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, was named as the proposer, while Mohammad Alami Musa, former president of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and current non-resident ambassador to Algeria, will be the seconder.
The writ of election was issued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Aug 11. Prospective candidates have until August 17 to submit their applications for the certificate of eligibility. The nomination day will be on Tuesday, August 22. Should more than one prospective candidate receive the certificate of eligibility, a contest, and polling day shall be on Friday, Sep 1.