Last Updated on 2023-05-31 , 9:06 am
Every president of Singapore holds office for a term of six years from the date on which they assume office.
Barring any unexpected events—such as death, resignation, removal from office due to misconduct or mental or physical infirmity—a President is expected to serve the full term, and a Presidential election must be held not more than three months before the date of expiry.
Since Halimah Yacob was sworn in as President on 14 September 2017, her term will be expiring this year.
On 29 May 2023, President Halimah has confirmed in a Facebook post that she won’t be running for another term:
This means we’d very likely be seeing an election before 13 September.
Here are some facts about this election.
Qualifications Required to Run as President
According to Article 19 of the Singapore Constriction, a person must meet these requirements in order to qualify for election as President of Singapore:
- Be a Singaporean citizen;
- Be at least 45 years old;
- Have his or her name appear in the current register of electors;
- Be a resident of Singapore for at least 10 years before and up to his/her nomination;
- Satisfy the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) that he/she is a person of integrity, good character and reputation;
- Not be a member of any political party on the date of her/his nomination for election;
- Not found to be of unsound mind;
- Not be an undischarged bankrupt;
- Not hold an office of profit;
- Has filed returns of election expenses as required by law within the stated timeframe;
- Not convicted of any offence and sentenced to at least one year in jail or a fine of at least $1,000;
- Have met the public or private sector service requirements.
In order to fulfil the public sector service requirement, the individual must have held office in the Parliament for at least three years or served as chief executive in a key statutory board or government agency.
The PEC must be satisfied with the nature of the office, the individual’s performance in said office, and any other factors it sees fit to consider.
For the private sector service requirement, an individual must have served as chief executive of a company for at least three years, and the company must have at least $500 million in shareholders’ equity and made profit after tax throughout those three years.
After the showdown in America that got an orange tan elected as President, it’s a good thing that there are a list of stringent requirements that must be met before someone qualifies as a presidential candidate.
Arrangement For Overseas Voters
For overseas voters, they are expected to cast their votes at any of the 10 overseas polling stations in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, the United States or the United Kingdom.
While it covers a lot of ground, voters who are unable to fly over to these countries or are unable to make it on the day of the polling due to other commitments, will not be able to cast their votes.
It is estimated that there are roughly 200,000 Singaporeans overseas, but not all of them are of voting age.
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elections Department (ELD) acknowledges that travelling to the overseas polling stations may be a trial due to possible travel restrictions.
While there is the option of opening more overseas polling stations, the ELD said that it would be “very resource intensive” and it may not fully solve the problem of accessibility.
The next option that ELD looked into was postal voting, though it comes with multiple challenges, like keeping the ballots safe and secure, and ensuring that the voter who marked the postal ballot is the voter and not under duress.
The ballot must also be posted and received in time to be counted.
There could also be a risk of a number difference between the ballots issued and the votes received, which may “cast doubts” on the integrity of the process.
Hence, the ELD is contemplating the possibility of sending the postal ballot papers and return envelopes to overseas voters through electronic means.
The tentative idea is that postal voters will have to log into their SingPass account to download and print the ballot slips and return envelopes.
The ELD may also ask overseas Singaporeans to submit a specimen signature when registering as postal voters, then signing on the return envelope when they mail their votes to Singapore.
With this double-authentication method, it should reduce the risks involved in postal balloting.
As to why elections have not gone online, you might want to watch this to the end:
Polling Stations at Nursing Homes
The 2020 General Election is likely an event that we won’t forget any time soon, mostly because of the masks, the strict social distancing, the lack of door-to-door visitations and politicians making their speeches far away from their audience.
Oh, there were people who were made to stay at home because they had contracted COVID-19 too.
As such, the ELD made special arrangements to let voters on stay-home notice at designated hotels.
For the Presidential Election 2023, they are planning to expand the arrangement to voters staying in nursing homes.
Polling stations could be set up in the nursing homes’ premises, or a mobile team could be deployed to bring the ballot box and papers from bed to bed.
It is not manpower-intensive and rather feasible too; there are around 80 nursing homes in Singapore, give or take a few.
Should the plan go through, nursing homes will no longer need to bring their elderly residents to the polling stations.
Additionally, the nursing home staff, who are already familiar with the care of their elderly residents, can assist the seniors who are eligible to do so.
Although there is a risk of residents “being influenced” by the nursing home staff, this can be countered by clearly listing what the nursing staff can and cannot do.
Since this is the pilot of nursing home polling stations, it is likely that only a few nursing homes will be selected for a start.
Events Leading Up to the Balloting
By virtue of our current president having a walkover election—wherein there are no other qualified candidates—no Presidential Election took place in 2017.
The last contested election occurred in 2011, whereby Tony Tan won 35.2% of the votes.
Anyway, the process is pretty straight forward.
Candidates will begin campaigning after the notice of contested election is issued, which will probably be in July or September.
It will be hard to miss, since there will be cars with loudspeakers and banners on light poles.
The date of the official poll will be between the 10th day and 56th day after the campaigning starts.
For eligible voters, you will receive a letter with information about the location of the polling station and the time slot.
There is a Cooling Off Day just before Polling Day, where no candidate is allowed to advertise over the television, newspaper, magazine, or periodical to give the voters time to rationally consider their choices before going to the polls.
Polling Day will last from 8am to 8pm.
For overseas voters, their ballots must reach Singapore within 10 days for their vote to count, unless the Returning Officer decides to extend the time by another seven days.
2023 Presidential Candidates
Since it is still early, no candidate has voiced their intent to run for President yet.
As previously mentioned, Ms Halimah Yacob has ruled out running in the election.
On the other hand, former foreign affairs minister George Yeo has declared that he will not be contesting for the next presidential election.
During his interview with Lianhe Zaobao about his new book, Mr Yeo explained that he was not the most politically correct person and running for president is “not a prospect which attracts [him].”
While the publishing of his new book may seem like a bid to raise his popularity for the future presidential election, Mr Yeo is content with current state, half-retired and free from government duties.
Nonetheless, Mr Yeo is certain that there will be many candidates for the 2023 Presidential Elections.
It’s going to be loud next year.
Also, this year, candidates might be using TikTok to garner support; watch this and you’d understand:
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