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PE amendments that were critical to PE2017

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By Offbeat Perspectives

What determined the fate of the results of PE 2017? Did you know one proposed amendment by the Commission tasked to review the Elected Presidency could have led to Halimah’s downfall if it had been legally passed?

#1 Eligibility criteria of private sector candidates made more stringent 

Previous eligibility criteria:

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A person who has been chairman or chief executive officer of a company with a paid-up capital of at least S$100 million for the last 3 years would qualify to stand in the Presidential election

Changes to eligibility criteria:

On 9th November 2016, amendments to the constitution were passed by Parliament for Private sector candidates to have served as the chief executive officer for a minimum of three years, of a company with at least S$500 million in shareholders’ equity.

#2 Proposed change to increase the number of years candidate has served in their previous roles

Proposed changes to eligibility criteria

To automatically qualify, prospective candidates — be it in from the private or public sector — would have to serve for at least six years in their former roles, double the previous tenure requirements.

How it would have impacted Halimah Yacob?

She would have been unqualified to stand as she was elected Speaker of Parliament only on 14 January 2013, which means she would have been in this role for slightly over 3 and a half years (which is less than 6 years).

Was it implemented? No.

#3 Reservation of Presidential Election for a particular racial group who has not held the presidency for five consecutive terms 

Previous eligibility criteria:

Presidential election opened to all races

Changes in eligibility criteria

On 9th November 2016, amendments to the constitution were passed by Parliament to reserve the presidential election for a candidate from a racial group that has not occupied the president’s office for five or more consecutive terms.

How it has impacted PE 2017?

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock had challenged the Government’s decision to reserve the September presidential election for Malay candidates, saying that it is unconstitutional.

Parliament (was) free to start counting from Mr Wee Kim Wee’s term as president for the purposes of reserving the next election for Malay candidates, the High Court ruled.

PE2017 was as such, reserved only for Malay candidates. Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican, Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan, and Mdm Halimah Yacob were the 3 candidates that received the Malay Community Certificates which made them eligible to contest.

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