SINGAPORE: The Elections Department (ELD) has revealed that it will open the application period for those who wish to contest the 2023 Presidential Election tomorrow (13 June), in an announcement that comes mere days after Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam revealed his plans to retire from politics and enter the presidential race.
ELD added that it could not say when the Presidential Election will be held as the decision lies with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Incidentally, PM Lee and members of his Cabinet have welcomed the presidential aspirations of Tharman, indicating that he is the clear establishment pick.
This year’s Presidential Election is set to be an open election, and interested individuals must ensure that they submit their applications for the Certificate of Eligibility no later than the fifth day after the Writ of Election is issued. The ELD emphasized that late applications will not be accepted.
To be eligible as a candidate for the Presidential Election, an individual must meet certain requirements. These include being a citizen of Singapore, being 45 years old or above on the day of nomination, being registered as an elector in the current registers of electors, and having been a resident of Singapore for at least ten years leading up to the day of nomination.
Furthermore, candidates must not be subject to any disqualifications specified in Article 45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and should not be a member of any political party at the time of nomination.
Additionally, candidates must satisfy the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) that they have fulfilled the necessary public sector or private sector service requirements within the 20-year period preceding the writ of election.
Potential candidates seeking to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility must submit an application to the PEC. The PEC will assess the integrity, good character, and reputation of the applicant, as well as determine whether they meet the relevant public sector or private sector service requirements.
The PEC is chaired by Lee Tzu Yang, who also serves as the chairman of the Public Service Commission.
To facilitate the application process, the ELD has provided digital services for candidates on its website, where individuals can prepare the application form. Once completed, the application form and all supporting documents must be printed out and submitted to the ELD within the specified deadline.
In an open election, prospective candidates are also required to submit a community declaration to the Community Committee (CC). The purpose of the community declaration is to determine when the next reserved election will be held. If no candidate from a particular community has been elected president in the past five terms, the next election will be reserved for that community.
Candidates have the option to submit a community declaration for the Chinese, Malay, Indian, or Other Minority communities. Those who do not identify with any particular community can indicate this in their declaration.
Prospective candidates can submit their community declaration early through the ELD’s website. The CC, chaired by Edward D’Silva, who is also the Chairman of the Public Hygiene Council and a member of the Public Service Commission, will review the community declarations.
The CC has the authority to accept the declaration and issue a notice of acceptance or request the candidate to submit another declaration for a different community.
Candidates who have successfully submitted their community declaration will receive a Community Certificate no later than the eve of nomination day.
The nomination day, scheduled at least ten days after the issuance of the writ of election, marks a crucial step in the election process.
ELD added that the timing of the Presidential Election is governed by certain provisions. If the office of the president becomes vacant before the current term expires, a Presidential Election must be held within six months. However, if the term is set to expire, the election cannot be held earlier than three months before the term concludes.
If a new president is not elected by the time the incumbent president’s term expires, an acting president will assume office temporarily. The acting president will be the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers and, if unavailable, the Speaker of Parliament.
President Halimah Yacob’s current term is set to conclude on Sept 13, 2023. This means that the upcoming Presidential Election can take place anytime from June 13, 2023, but it is not required to be held by Sept 13, 2023.
ELD said that if the election has not taken place by the end of President Halimah Yacob’s term, it should be held shortly thereafter.