Polling Day for Presidential Election set for 23 September 2017

Singapore’s Istana, the official residence and office of the nation’s president. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

*UPDATED at 4.15pm on 28 August 2017 to include statements from presidential hopefuls Salleh Marican and Farid Khan

Polling Day for the 2017 Presidential Election (PE) has been scheduled for 23 September (Saturday), the Elections Department (ELD) announced on Monday. This is contingent on there being more than one qualified candidate announced on Nomination Day, which will be on 13 September, said the ELD press release.

The designated Nomination Place will be the auditorium of the People’s Association at King George’s Avenue. Under the law, any Polling Day for a PE will be a public holiday. Energy Market Authority chief executive Ng Wai Choong will be the Returning Officer for the PE, said the ELD announcement. Ng also served as Returning Officer for the 2015 General Election.

Prospective candidates have to apply for their Certificates of Eligibility and Community Certificates to the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) and Community Committee (CC), respectively, by 5pm on 4 September. As this year’s PE has been reserved for Malay candidates, prospective candidates will need to obtain a Malay Community Certificate from the CC.

Thus far, three prospective candidates have announced their intention to contest the PE: Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican, 67; Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62; and former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 62. Both Marican and Farid have already submitted their applications for PEC and the CC to consider their eligibility as candidates.

“I am confident of getting that green light (to stand in the PE). It has been a great journey for my team and I when we made the decision to contest,” said Marican in a press release following the ELD announcement.

Khan’s camp also released a statement in response to the news. “I am confident that both committees (the PEC and CEC) will affirm my eligibility to contest and that I belong to the Malay community.

“This is an important election, one that provide Singaporeans from all walks of life, an opportunity to uphold democracy and to show the world how multi-racialism is adopted and practised in Singapore,” said Khan.

A timeline for Singapore’s Presidential Election 2017. (Graphic by gov.sg)

The PEC and the CC will have at least 10 days after the writ to review the submissions from candidates, who will be informed on the outcome before Nomination Day.

Qualified candidates will then be allowed to campaign up to a day before Cooling Off Day, which is a day before Polling Day. For this year’s PE, there will also be a new form for candidates 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”.

“We are a multiracial country, and every citizen should know that someone of his community can become President, and does become President from time to time, and thus represent all Singaporeans.

“I hope Singaporeans will support the candidate who will best represent their interests and aspirations, and our nation. Not just at home, but internationally too,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who issued the Writ of Election, in a Facebook post on Monday.

There has been much heated debate since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last November that the PE would be reserved for Malay candidates.

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock had filed a court application against the timing of this year’s election. Tan argued that the five-term count for the reserved election to be triggered should start with the late Ong Teng Cheong and not the late Wee Kim Wee. He lost his case in the High Court and his subsequent appeal.

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