Presidential election to be held in September with new campaigning rules

Presidential election to be held in September with new campaigning rules
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - The next presidential election, if contested by more than one candidate, will take place this September - a break from past voting periods of end-August.

This is to ensure that campaigning will stop coinciding with National Day celebrations, assuming presidents serve their full six-year terms, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament today (Feb 6).

President Tony Tan Keng Yam's term expires on Aug 31. If a new president is not elected by this time, the Constitution provides for the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) or the Speaker of Parliament to be acting president until a new president is elected and assumes office.

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Mr Chan also announced changes in campaigning rules.

Among them is that the Government will no longer designate rally sites for presidential elections.

"This is in line with the Government's and 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 elected presidency," Mr Chan said.

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But candidates who wish to hold rallies can still do so, with police permit.

Mr Chan pointed out that without designated and pre-security assessed rally sites, the applications may take slightly longer to go through.

Candidates are encouraged to use social media platforms and indoor private sessions to reach out to voters.

The Government is also studying options to help increase television airtime for candidates, Mr Chan added.

The coming presidential election is reserved for Malay candidates, one of the changes to the elected presidency scheme approved by Parliament in November last year.

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Other key changes include more stringent criteria: a candidate from the private sector must have been the top executive of a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity. Previously, a candidate must have been helmed a company with paid-up capital of at least $100 million.

An elected candidate can also be removed from office if he or she is found to have intentionally made false or misleading statements to the Presidential Elections Committee.

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