Who Should You Vote For? A Complete Guide To The Singapore Presidential Election 2023

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Who Should You Vote For? A Complete Guide To The Presidential Election 2023

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The presidential election in Singapore is an important event that determines who will assume the largely ceremonial and community role of the country's head of state. Scheduled to held on Sept 1st 2023, the election will follow the constitutional guidelines, which include reserved cycles to ensure representation for the Singaporean community.

Although the presidency in Singapore is primarily a symbolic position, it does come with significant oversight powers. The president has the authority to veto government budgets and senior public service appointments, ensuring a system of checks and balances. Additionally, the president can block unlawful detentions without trial, safeguarding individuals' rights and liberties.

Beyond these powers, the president plays a crucial role in embodying national unity and exerting soft power to influence government decisions. With limited executive responsibilities, the president's election outcome provides insights into the collective priorities and concerns of Singaporeans.

In the upcoming election, it is essential for voters to evaluate the candidates carefully. Factors such as experience, integrity, and vision for the country should be considered. By selecting a president who can effectively unify the nation and advocate for the interests of the people, Singapore can continue to thrive under principled and capable leadership.

Singapore Presidential Election is Coming Up Next

The specific timeline for the election has been announced and we can anticipate the key dates and events leading up to Polling Day on 1 September 2023 as a public holiday.

The first important milestone in the election process is the submission deadlines for nomination papers and the Certificate of Eligibility, which are crucial for candidate hopefuls to qualify for the election.

Following this, on 22 August 2023, nomination day was held, during which candidates formally declare their intention to run for the presidency.

To ensure a fair playing field, a cooling-off day is implemented right before polling day. On this day, all campaigning activities are prohibited, giving voters the chance to reflect on their choices before casting their ballots.

Finally, when polling day arrives, providing Singaporeans with the opportunity to exercise their democratic right, they choose the individual they believe is best suited to serve as the president of Singapore.

Responsibilities of the President of Singapore

The President of Singapore holds a significant and multifaceted role in the country's governance. As the Head of State, the President performs both ceremonial and civic duties. These responsibilities include representing Singapore on the global stage, interacting with foreign dignitaries, and serving as a symbol of national unity and pride.

The President also plays a vital role in shaping the government's fiscal policies. They have the authority to approve or withhold the government's use of budgets proposed by the elected officials. This power provides a necessary check on excessive spending and ensures fiscal discipline.

In addition to safeguarding the reserves and managing government budgets, the President has influence over key appointments in the public service. As part of their custodial role, the President considers and approves appointments to key positions, such as the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, and members of the Public Service Commission.

Overall, the President of Singapore serves as a crucial guardian of the economy, fiscal policies, and key appointments within the government. Their role is essential in maintaining the stability, integrity, and efficient functioning of Singapore's governance.

The Importance of Voting

Voting plays a vital role in any democratic society, and the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election is no exception. It is not only a fundamental right but also a civic responsibility of citizens to exercise their right to vote. By casting their vote, individuals have the power to shape the future of their nation and have a say in the governance of their country.

In Singapore, voting is compulsory, highlighting the significance that the government places on citizen participation in the electoral process. While not voting is not illegal, it can result in removal from the Register of Electors, meaning individuals will lose their ability to vote in future elections (and that includes any General Elections). This underscores the government's commitment to ensuring that every eligible citizen has the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

If someone has been removed from the Register of Electors, they can reinstate their voting eligibility by applying for restoration. However, it is important to note that there is a fee associated with this process. This fee serves as a reminder of the value and importance placed on voting in Singapore.

Understanding the Candidates

In order to make an informed decision in the presidential election, it is crucial to understand the candidates who are vying for the position. The candidates bring with them a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and visions for Singapore's future. It is essential to evaluate their qualifications, track records, and proposed policies before casting a vote.

This comprehensive understanding of the candidates will enable voters to make a choice based on their alignment with their own values and priorities.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Source from Asiaone.com

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a highly respected and accomplished politician, is considered one of the potential candidates for the upcoming Singapore presidential election. With his exceptional track record and extensive experience in various governmental roles, he is a strong contender for the position.

As Senior Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam has contributed significantly to Singapore's development and governance. He has held key roles such as the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education, demonstrating his expertise in economic management and educational reform. Tharman Shanmugaratnam has also been actively involved in international organizations, representing Singapore's interests on a global scale.

As the race for the presidency heats up, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's experience and qualifications make him an appealing choice for many Singaporeans. His leadership and dedication to public service have earned him a strong reputation, making him a worthy candidate to consider in the upcoming election.

Background On Our Potential First Lady: 

Ng Kok Song, the Former Chief Investment Officer of GIC

Source from The Straits Times

Ng Kok Song, currently the Executive Chairman of Avanda Investment Management, brings a wealth of experience and expertise in finance and investments to his candidacy.

Ng Kok Song had an illustrious career at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), where he served as the Chief Investment Officer for over 17 years. During his tenure, Ng was instrumental in managing and growing GIC's portfolio, which is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds globally. His strategic investment strategies and prudent risk management played a crucial role in safeguarding and increasing Singapore's financial assets.

Ng was also the founding Chairman of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX), the forerunner of SGX Group, in addition to his duties at GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He was also a board member of SGX Group from 2013 to 2018, and Temasek Holdings from 2003 to 2005.

Ng established Avanda Investment Management in 2015 with two former GIC colleagues, Quah Wee Ghee and Sung Cheng Chih. Avanda Investment Management was supported by significant institutional investors, whose contributions allowed the business debut with around $4 billion in assets. Its assets had more than quadrupled to $10 billion by 2022, making it one among Singapore's fastest-growing investment organisations.

Ng has served as Chairman Emeritus of the Wealth Management Institute at Nanyang Technological University since 2017. He is on the board of directors of 65 Equity Partners (a worldwide investment firm)as well as the PIMCO worldwide Advisory Board. In terms of public administration (education), he is a member of the Asia School of Business's board of governors in Malaysia. He was on the governing board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore from 2017 to 2023.

Background On Our Potential First Lady:

Tan Kin Lian, the Former CEO of NTUC

Source from The Straits Times

Tan Kin Lian PBM BBM (born 9 March 1948) is a Singaporean businessman who served as the CEO of NTUC Income from 1997 to 2007, before running for president in 2011 & the current 2023 election.

During his time as CEO of NTUC Income, Tan Kin Lian successfully spearheaded numerous initiatives that aimed to improve the lives of Singaporeans. Under his direction, the firm grew from S$28 million in assets in 1977 to over S$17 billion in assets and over one million policyholders in 2007.

Tan oversaw NTUC Income with the goal of giving policyholders the greatest value possible. This meant cheaper insurance agency fees, encouragement of direct selling practises that bypassed agents entirely and minimal running expenses—Tan flew economy class during his 30-year tenure as CEO, including on long-haul flights. This management approach contrasted with certain NTUC Income board members, who desired the firm to be operated more commercially or professionally, and even campaigned for its privatisation. Tan was requested to resign by the board after serving a 30-year term.

He was a member of the People's Action Party (PAP) for 30 years until leaving in 2008 owing to inactivity and disagreement with the party's moral system. He also served as the party's Marine Parade branch secretary for three years before being chosen by Goh Chok Tong in 1977 to try a prototype system for establishing block committees, today known as Residents' Committees (RC).

Tan was active in the Marine Parade constituency for the first 10 years, but remained inactive for the next 20 years after moving to Upper Thomson and then Yio Chu Kang.

In 2011, Tan Kin Lian made his first bid for the presidency. Although he did not emerge victorious, his campaign resonated with many citizens who appreciated his sincerity and commitment to championing the rights of ordinary Singaporeans.

Background On Our Potential First Lady:

Criteria to Run for Presidency

To be eligible to run for the presidency in Singapore, candidates must go through a stringent application process. They are required to submit nomination papers and a certificate of eligibility to the Elections Department. However, certain criteria must be fulfilled to qualify for the 2023 election.

These include having held a qualifying position in the public service or having run a company with a minimum paid-up capital of S$100 million. The application process aims to ensure that only qualified individuals who possess the necessary experience and expertise can become candidates for the highest office in the country.

These strict criteria ensure that the presidential candidates are capable of effectively carrying out their roles and responsibilities, which include representing the country at international events and safeguarding the integrity of the elected office.

Singapore President Public Sector Requirements

In Singapore, the office of the President comes with strict public sector requirements. To be eligible for the position, candidates must meet certain qualifications and hold key positions within the public sector.

One of the primary requirements is that the candidate must have held office as a Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, or Attorney-General.

Additionally, candidates may qualify by having served as the chief executive of a specified entity for a specific period of time. This requirement guarantees that potential Presidents have relevant experience in managing and leading public organizations.

The evaluation of candidates is done by the Presidential Elections Committee, which assesses their experience and ability to effectively carry out the functions and duties of the office. This committee plays a crucial role in evaluating the suitability of candidate hopefuls.

The public sector requirements ensure that the elected President is well-equipped to fulfill their ceremonial, civic, and custodial roles. It is crucial for the individual to have a strong understanding of government budgets, public appointments, and the general functioning of government agencies.

Singapore President Private Sector Requirements

Prospective candidates for the Singapore presidency must also meet certain criteria in the private sector. One of the key requirements is having served as a chief executive of a company for at least three years.

Moreover, the financial standing of the company is taken into consideration. Candidates must demonstrate that the company's shareholders' equity has been at least $500 million on average for the most recent three financial years.

Furthermore, the company's average annual net profit after tax must be at least $30 million for the most recent three years.

Similar to the evaluation process for the public sector, the Presidential Elections Committee plays a crucial role by assessing candidates' ability to effectively carry out the duties of the office.

Prominent Singaporeans Rally Behind Tharman's Presidential Campaign

Ho Kwon Ping, Royston Tan, and Muhd Alami Musa are among the prominent Singaporeans who have publicly voiced their support for Tharman Shanmugaratnam's presidential bid. Each of these individuals holds significance in their respective fields and has played a role in advocating for Tharman's candidacy.

Ho Kwon Ping, the founder and executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, is a well-respected figure in the business community. As a successful entrepreneur and industry leader, his endorsement carries weight and underscores Tharman's ability to garner support from influential business figures in Singapore.

Royston Tan, a renowned filmmaker, has been vocal about his backing for Tharman. Through his artistic work, Tan has captured and showcased various social issues in Singapore, making him an influential voice among the arts community. His public support not only highlights Tharman's appeal to the creative sector but also adds a touch of cultural endorsement to his presidential aspirations.

Muhd Alami Musa, an entrepreneur and founder of multiple successful businesses, is another advocate for Tharman's candidacy. His endorsement signifies support from the startup and innovation community in Singapore. Musa's recognition as a young achiever in the business world further emphasizes Tharman's ability to inspire and connect with the younger demographic.

The public support of individuals like Ho Kwon Ping, Royston Tan, and Muhd Alami Musa contributes to Tharman's presidential bid by showcasing his appeal across different sectors of society. Their endorsements not only validate Tharman's qualifications and capabilities but also strengthen his overall public image and credibility as a potential President of Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian: Tan Jee Say & Lim Tean Unite with Their Unstoppable '10 Supporters'

Tan Kin Lian, a former chief executive of NTUC Income and candidate for the Singapore presidential election, has recently refuted claims that he is short of assenters. In fact, Tan has garnered the support of not just four, but ten individuals who are backing his candidacy.

Among his supporters is the controversial Lim Tean, a lawyer and the founder of the People's Voice party. Lim Tean's public endorsement of Tan Kin Lian highlights the candidate's appeal to those who seek alternative voices in the political landscape.

Another prominent supporter is Tan Jee Say, a former presidential candidate. Tan Jee Say's backing of Tan Kin Lian adds weight to the candidate's credibility and experience in political campaigns.

Candidates were needed to be accompanied by a proposer, seconder, and at least four assenters on Nomination Day. Tan Kin Lian has not only fulfilled but beyond this condition, with the endorsement of 10 persons who believe in his vision for Singapore's future, despite the fact that the assessors are not as high profile as other applicants in terms of academic or business experience.

Ng Kok Song's assentors include Mohamed Salleh Marican, a former presidential candidate.

Ng Kok Song, a potential candidate for the upcoming presidential election, recently announced his list of assentors, showcasing a strong network of support. Among those who have shown their endorsement for Ng Kok Song is Mohamed Salleh Marican, a former presidential hopeful and successful businessman.

Mohamed Salleh Marican, the founder and CEO of Second Chance Properties Ltd, has an impressive background in business and entrepreneurship. As a former candidate in the 2017 presidential election, Marican brings his experience and insights to support Ng Kok Song's campaign. Marican's endorsement highlights the confidence he has in Ng Kok Song's leadership abilities and vision for Singapore's future.

In addition to Mohamed Salleh Marican, Ng Kok Song has garnered the support of other notable individuals who believe in his candidacy. While their identities and affiliations have not been explicitly mentioned in the announcement, their inclusion in the list of assentors further enhances Ng Kok Song's credibility and potential as a presidential candidate.

With a strong network of supporters, including Mohamed Salleh Marican, Ng Kok Song aims to present a compelling case to the electorate during the presidential election. His supporters bring a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, reinforcing Ng Kok Song's suitability for the role and showcasing the breadth of support he has garnered within the political landscape.

Preparing to Vote

Before casting your vote in the presidential election, it is important to take the time to research and understand the candidates' positions on key issues and their qualifications for office. Start by familiarizing yourself with the nomination papers and certificate of eligibility required to run for presidency in Singapore. You should also stay informed about the election process, including the roles and responsibilities of the Elections Department and the Presidential Elections Committee.

1. Singpass will be accepted at polling stations as a method of identity verification for voters in the upcoming presidential election

This digital authentication system allows individuals to access various government services online, and now it can also be used to confirm one's identity at the polling station.

For voters who have Singpass, the process is simple. They will need to present their Singpass QR code on their smartphone or tablet, which will be scanned by the election officials to verify their identity. This quick and efficient method eliminates the need for physical documents and reduces the risk of errors in the verification process.

However, for those who do not have Singpass or prefer not to use it, they can still use their physical National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) for identification purposes. The election officials at the polling station will check the information on the NRIC to confirm the voter's eligibility.

2. More polling stations and officials

To address the long wait times experienced in previous elections, the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election has implemented measures to increase the number of polling stations and officials, resulting in shorter wait times for voters.

The number of polling stations has been increased from 1,097 to 1,264, allowing for a more evenly distributed allocation of voters per station. This means that voters will have easier access to polling stations, reducing the need for extensive travel and potentially decreasing wait times at each location.

To further expedite the voting process, approximately 36,000 election officials will be deployed across the various polling stations. These officials will be responsible for assisting voters, verifying identities, and ensuring a smooth voting experience.

The election organizers have also increased the number of registration counters and ballot paper counters.

3. Checking the queues

To address the issue of long queues during the Singapore Presidential Election, several measures have been implemented to ensure a smoother voting experience.

One such measure is the introduction of the VoteQ website, where voters can check the real-time queue status at their designated polling station. This allows individuals to plan their visit accordingly and avoid peak hours, reducing the overall waiting time. The VoteQ website can also be accessed conveniently through the Singpass app, providing an additional avenue for voters to monitor queue length.

You can find more information about the Elections on their website here.

Additionally, special polling stations have been set up in nursing homes to cater to elderly citizens and residents with limited mobility. This initiative aims to provide easier access for these individuals, reducing the need for extensive travel and potential discomfort.

4. A new voting stamp has been introduced

In the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election, voters will have the option to use a new stamp to mark their choice. This innovative measure aims to make the voting process more convenient and efficient.

The new stamp allows voters to simply stamp their preferred candidate's box on the ballot paper instead of manually filling it in with a pen. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors or smudging.

However, it is important to note that the use of the stamp is encouraged but not compulsory. Voters can still choose to bring their own pens to mark their choice if they prefer. This flexibility ensures that voters have the freedom to use the method they are most comfortable with.

The introduction of self-inking pens in the previous General Election was a stepping stone towards this new stamp. The self-inking pens were well-received by voters, as they eliminated the need for constant dipping in ink, making the marking process smoother and more efficient.

5. Vote from anywhere in the world! Mark your envelope before sending it off

Overseas postal voting is allowed in Singapore's upcoming presidential election. This provides an opportunity for eligible Singaporeans residing abroad to participate in the democratic process.

To cast their vote, overseas voters must first submit an application to the Elections Department for an overseas postal voting package. This package will include the necessary forms and instructions.

It is important to note that the envelopes used for overseas postal voting must be postmarked. This means that they should have an official postmark indicating the date and location of mailing. This ensures that the votes are received in a timely manner and are counted as valid.

The countries where overseas postal voting is allowed are divided into different regions, each with its own set of instructions and considerations. For example, in the Asia Pacific region, voters are required to send their completed ballot papers back to Singapore by a certain date. In the Americas and Europe regions, the return envelopes must be postmarked no later than the day before polling day.

Voters in these specific regions to carefully review the instructions provided in their overseas postal voting packages and adhere to the deadlines and requirements. In case of any questions or uncertainties, they can contact the Elections Department for assistance.

6. Designated polling stations

In order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right, special arrangements are made for polling stations in nursing homes during the Singapore Presidential Election.

Nursing homes with over 50 registered voters will have the option of on-site polling stations or mobile polling teams to accommodate residents; ensuring those who may have mobility challenges or difficulty accessing regular polling stations to exercise their right to vote.

Financing the Elections

Political Donations

The Political Donations Act 2000 aims to prevent foreign interference in Singaporean politics and elections through financial donations. Under the law, political associations and candidates are prohibited from accepting donations except from "permissible donors" who must be Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

Candidates and political associations must vet donors carefully to ensure they are permissible before accepting donations. They should collect sufficient information to verify the donor's citizenship status. Anonymous donations above S$5,000 are also prohibited.

When organising fundraising events, candidates must ensure foreigners are not inadvertently allowed to make prohibited donations. Ticketed events must clearly state that only Singapore citizens and PRs may purchase tickets.

Candidates should proactively disclose information on donations promptly and accurately in line with regulations. They should not try to obfuscate or delay disclosure.

Those who flout the Political Donations Act face sanctions including fines and jail. Candidates who accept foreign donations may also be disqualified from contesting elections.

Read also: Everything You Need To Know About Company Memorandum and Articles of Association
Read also: Navigating Singapore's Budget 2023: What Businesses Need to Know

Read also: Lasting Power of Attorney in Singapore - A Complete Guide


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