3 hopefuls head into Nomination Day to kick off race to be Singapore’s 9th president

Should more than one candidate be successful in their nomination, Singapore will head to the polls on Sept 1 to elect its ninth president, after months of activity and discussion.

Goh Yan Han

Goh Yan Han

The Straits Times


(From left) Former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song, former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian qualified to contest the presidential election. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

August 22, 2023

SINGAPORE – Three presidential hopefuls will be gearing up to move to the next stage of the presidential election on Tuesday, which is Nomination Day.

Former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song, 75, former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, 66, and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian, 75, received their certificates of eligibility last Friday, qualifying them for the contest.

They will be taking their documents, which include the certificate and their nomination papers, to the nomination place – the auditorium of the People’s Association (PA) at 9 King George’s Avenue, in Jalan Besar.

Should more than one candidate be successful in their nomination, Singapore will head to the polls on Sept 1 to elect its ninth president, after months of activity and discussion.

The ball got rolling on June 8 when Mr Tharman said he would be resigning from the People’s Action Party and Government to contest the election, about a week after incumbent President Halimah Yacob said she would not seek re-election.

Four days later, entrepreneur George Goh threw his hat in the ring as well, though he was not issued a certificate of eligibility by the Presidential Elections Committee last Friday.

Mr Ng joined the fray on July 19 as he picked up his forms at the Elections Department.

Mr Tan surprised some in end-July when he said he had already submitted his application several weeks earlier.

Over the past month, the presidential hopefuls have been out and about – from markets and MRT trains, to clan associations and community events – getting the public acquainted with their platform and message.

Mr Tharman has held several dialogues, both closed-door and open to the media, a number of them with young people.

In these sessions, and in his online posts, he said he wants to promote a culture of Respect For All – the theme of his platform – and will support initiatives for this cause.

Mr Tan said he wants to use the influence of the presidency to bring down the cost of living, make housing affordable and help secure jobs. This is even as the president has no role to advance his own policy agenda.

He has amplified his ground activities with online outreach, via regular Facebook posts and updates to his website.

Mr Ng has also used both physical and online channels to inform Singaporeans of his credentials. He is the only one who has not held a press conference to articulate his platform or slogan, United for our Future.

On Monday, he announced his team of proposer, seconder and eight assenters, who include former 2017 presidential hopeful Mohamed Salleh Marican and DP Architects chairman Angelene Chan.

The potential three-way fight looks set to kick off in earnest on Tuesday morning.

Candidates in the upcoming presidential election and their supporters have been reminded by the police to arrive early at the nomination centre. As proceedings will start at 11am, interested parties should arrive from 10am, when the centre opens, the police said in an advisory.

Supporters and the public are requested to take public transport to the venue, as only vehicles with approved decals will be allowed to enter and park within the centre.

Bags and other belongings may be subject to security checks.

Supporters have also been cautioned not to unfurl or display placards, flags or banners in support of any candidate in the nomination centre before the close of nomination proceedings.

The nomination papers and certificates will have to be delivered to the returning officer at the PA headquarters between 11am and noon on Nomination Day.

The returning officer will be Mr Tan Meng Dui, chief executive of the Housing Board.

When submitting their forms, candidates are encouraged to voluntarily undertake that they will conduct their election campaign in a manner that is dignified, decorous and consistent with the president’s position as the head of state and the symbol of national unity.

Signed undertakings will be put up on the noticeboard, together with nomination papers and certificates, during nomination proceedings on Nomination Day.

The deposit payable by each candidate is $40,500, and must be made before noon on Nomination Day.

Successful nominees will be announced at 12.30pm if the election is contested.

If the election is uncontested, the announcement will be at noon.

Candidates will then have two minutes to make a speech, after which they can address their gathered supporters.

Campaigning will officially begin, and it will end on Aug 30. Cooling-off Day is on Aug 31 and Polling Day will be Sept 1, a public holiday.

Get real-time updates

Follow The Straits Times’ live blog as we bring you the latest happenings on Nomination Day. Visit our microsite at str.sg/pe2023

Watch it live

Catch the proceedings on the ST website and ST YouTube page.

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