The presidential election will be held in September to avoid the campaigning period from overlapping with the National Day celebrations in August, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said Monday (6 February).
Speaking in Parliament, Chan also revealed changes in the campaigning rules for the election during the debate on the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill.
Among them, the government will no longer designate rally sites during the election in a move to avoid “divisive” campaigning.
“This is in line with the government’s and the Constitutional Commission’s position not to encourage rallies, which by their nature and format, may be divisive and not congruent with the unifying role of the presidency,” Chan said.
But presidential candidates who wish to hold rallies can apply for a police permit.
The government agrees with the Commission’s position that there should be a clear difference between campaigning during the presidential and parliamentary elections, Chan said.
The campaigning for the presidential election “must not inflame emotions” and has to maintain “the decorum and dignity of the office of the President,” Chan said.
As such, candidates are encouraged to use social media platforms and channels to reach out to voters on a national level, and will be given more television airtime.
Candidates can also apply to hold indoor private sessions with specific groups of voters.
In another change, a Community Committee will be formed to assess whether a candidate is from a specific racial group.
The next presidential election has been reserved for Malay candidates, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in Parliament in November last year.