The presidential wheel starts turning

May 31, 2017 07.00PM |

by Bertha Henson

AND so it begins.

From tomorrow (June 1), Malays who want a shot at the presidency can start picking for forms from the Elections Department in Pinsep Street. Be warned that they are pretty lengthy forms, requiring plenty of information, especially from a prospective candidate from the private sector. Data demanded includes the financial performance of the corporation he led over a period of at least three year’s of service.

Also be warned that the applicants who clear the expanded six-member Presidential Elections Committee chaired by Mr Eddie Teo, head of the Public Service Commission, will have their forms made public for all to see. The G has picked up a recommendation made to the Constitutional Commission looking into changes to the presidency last year, that such transparency would have a “salutary effect” on those who think they can fudge their credentials.

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Given that this year’s presidential election is reserved for members of the Malay community, applicants must, after clearing the credentials hurdle, go through a committee to confirm their ethnicity, much like candidates competing in parliamentary elections as members of a Group Representation Constituency. The chairman of the Malay sub-committee is Mr Imran Mohamad, who was the former chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals.

Details of the technical process were gazetted earlier today, with the election expected in September. President Tony Tan’s term ends on August 31. The G press statement makes no mention of the court challenges that have been filed, including over the concept of a hiatus-triggered reserved presidency.

Another new feature is a statutory declaration by prospective candidates that they have read and understood explanatory material in the nomination paper on the role of the President. You can read it here. This is to prevent a repeat of 2011 presidential election campaign, during which candidates strayed into areas beyond the constitutional role of President.

While not mandatory, applicants will also be asked to voluntarily undertake to conduct their campaign in a “dignified” and “decorous” manner that reflects the office of Head of State.

Yes, even if two or more Malays vie for the post, it will be a very tame election.

Read more on what we wrote about Tan Cheng Bock’s and M Ravi’s legal challenge.



Featured image by Sean Chong.

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