SINGAPORE: The Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday (Mar 28) that Mr Han Kok Juan, the Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has been appointed as the Returning Officer for the Presidential and Primary elections.

“Mr Han will assume the role with effect from 1 April 2024. Mr Tan Meng Dui, Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Development Board, will relinquish his appointment as the Returning Officer,” the PMO said in a media release.

The Elections Department of Singapore (ELD) is under the Prime Minister’s Office. As the Returning Officer, Mr Han will have oversight of the elections, making sure that they are held impartial and run smoothly. It is also his responsibility to announce the results of an election after the votes are finished being counted.

Mr Kok’s predecessor, Mr Tan, had overseen the Presidential Election held last year, which Tharman Shanmugaratnam won handily, with over 70 per cent of the votes cast.

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The next General Election must be held no later than November 23 of next year.

Who is Han Kok Juan?

The current CAAS director-general and Returning Officer for the elections Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He also has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Peking University in China.

Mr Kok has held a number of senior appointments in different ministries, such as finance, health, law, national development, trade and industry, and transport.

As well as being the head of the CAAS, he is also the Chairman of the Asia and Pacific Air Navigation Service Provider Committee, a member of the Executive Committee, and the Chair of the Asia Pacific CEO Committee of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).

The ELD’s latest improvements

In November 2019, the ELD announced improvements that would bring about a more seamless administrative and voting process for candidates and voters.

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In an attempt to digitalise services, voters were able to log in online using their SingPass and check information on voting eligibility, electoral division, polling district, and voter serial number.

During voting, voters were able to go through eRegistration, where their NRICs were scanned by election officials instead of being manually checked against the electoral roll.

One of the more prominent changes implemented was a self-inking pen that will replace conventional pens at voting booths.

These allowed voters to stamp a cross on the ballot paper to indicate their vote. The ELD said that the new pens allow voters to mark their choice without ambiguity. They require minimal pressure to be used and are suitable for the elderly. /TISG

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