Even before the contest has begun, the presidential race has seen its first drop-out.
Entrepreneur Mike Lee Kheng Siang, 57, has withdrawn his candidacy after discovering that he did not fulfill at least one of the criteria laid out for presidential candidates, he told The Straits Times on Thursday.
He was referring to the criteria stipulated in the Constitution which requires candidates to serve for at least 3 years as "chairman of the board of directors or chief executive officer of a company incorporated or registered under the Companies Act with a paid-up capital of at least $100 million or its equivalent in foreign currency".
This comes two days after he had sent a representative to collect the application forms for the certificate of eligibility.
Mr Lee, a former executive chairman of Global Ariel hospitality company, was appointed to the post in December 2004. He then left the company in July 2007 to become executive chairman of contact lens company Oculus.
His tenure in Global Ariel means that he was only chairman for 31 months — five months short in fulfilling the required three years as stated in law.
During his time in the company, Global Ariel's issued and paid-up capital for the 2005 financial year was only $15 million but it rose to more than $293 million by the 2007 financial year.
However, it is unclear on whether a presidential candidate's company is required to have a paid-up capital of at least $100 million throughout his or her tenure or within a single year.
Commenting on his withdrawal, Mr Lee — who is now a private adviser to United States-based company Maxsys Holdings — said he should not complicate the presidential race for other candidates.
"I am disappointed but I hope more potential candidates will come forward to serve the country and people," he told ST.
Who may be in the running
Other potential candidates include former Foreign Minister George Yeo and former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian, both of whom are still contemplating whether or not to run for president.
Mr Tan, who had said last week that he would not be contesting the election, sent a representative on Friday morning to collect the application forms for the certificate of eligibility.
In his blog post, he said, "My friend collected the Certificate of Eligibility form for the EP election on my behalf today. I have still not decided to stand for an election, as my wife has reservation about my participation.
He went on to say that he will post further statements in his blog tomorrow.
Those who wish to stand as candidates are able to collect the application forms from the Elections Department. Applications will only be closed on the third day after a writ is issued for the Presidential Election.
The three-member Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) led by chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr Eddie Teo, will then decide whether the presidential hopefuls are eligible to stand in the election — due to be held by 31 August.
In the 2005 election, three aspiring candidates, one of whom was former Jurong Town Corporation group chief financial officer Andrew Kuan, failed to fulfill the criteria, allowing current President S R Nathan to be elected unopposed for a second time.