Singapore’s presidential election will be held in September, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament Monday.
During the second reading of the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, the minister outlined a series of amendments made to improve election procedures.
Chan announced that the next presidential election, which has been reserved for Malay candidates, will be held in September rather than in August, so that campaigning period will not coincide with the country’s National Day celebrations.
The minister stressed that the current laws allow for changes to the timing of the polls, and the government will issue the writ for the election later in Aug., before the term of President Tony Tan Keng Yam expires on August 31.
“This resets the clock, so that, in the future, presidential elections campaigning will take place outside of the National Day period, assuming presidents serve their full six-year terms,” Chan expounded in his speech.
Besides the change of date, Chan revealed the government will no longer designate specific sites for presidential candidates to hold rallies. Those who wish to do so will have to secure preferred sites and apply to police for permit.
“As presidential elections are contested on a national level and not on a local constituency level, the government will encourage the use of platforms and channels that reach out to voters at a national level, such as television,” said Chan.
For the upcoming election, a 16-member Community Committee will be set up to assess which racial group candidates belong to, for all presidential elections, said the minister.
The committee will consist of a chairman and three five-member sub-committees for the Chinese, Malay, and Indian and other minority groups.
Other changes include two extra days for overseas Singaporeans to get registered as overseas voters, more time for prospective candidates to submit their papers.
The president of Singapore is directly elected by popular vote. Potential candidates for office have to fulfill stringent qualifications set out in the Constitution.
In Nov. 2016, the Parliament passed the bill to amend the Constitution to raise the bar for presidential candidates and ensure multiracial representation in the Presidency.
Under the new Constitution, an election will be reserved for a particular racial group if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms. This means the upcoming presidential elections will be reserved for candidates from the Malay community. (PNA/Xinhua) CVL/SSC