Ng Kok Song, Tan Kin Lian, Tharman Shanmugaratnam qualify as presidential candidates; George Goh ineligible
SINGAPORE: Former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song, former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian and former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam have qualified as candidates for Singapore's Presidential Election, the Elections Department (ELD) announced on Friday (Aug 18).
Businessman George Goh was however unsuccessful in his application for a certificate of eligibility, though he was not identified in ELD's news release.
The Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) received a total of six applications for the certificate of eligibility by Thursday's deadline, said ELD.
The department noted that Mr Ng applied under the public sector deliberative track, with Mr Tan going under the private sector deliberative track. Mr Tharman meanwhile submitted his bid under the public sector service track.
The six-member PEC, headed by Public Service Commission chairman Lee Tzu Yang and including two Supreme Court judges, was satisfied that Mr Ng, Mr Tan and Mr Tharman were men of "integrity, good character and reputation", said ELD.
The committee was also satisfied that Mr Ng and Mr Tan had the "experience and ability to effectively carry out the functions and duties of the office of President".
In its release, ELD further detailed how each candidate fulfilled the eligibility criteria.
NG KOK SONG
For Mr Ng, the PEC was satisfied that he had the experience and ability comparable to that of a person who has served for three or more years as the chief executive of a Fifth Schedule entity, namely key statutory boards and government companies such as the Central Provident Fund Board, Temasek and GIC.
Mr Ng, 75, worked in the public service for 45 years, first in the Finance Ministry and then the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before becoming the chief investment officer at Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC.
TAN KIN LIAN
In Mr Tan's case, the committee was satisfied that he had the experience and ability comparable to that of someone who has served as the chief executive of a company with at least S$500 million of shareholders’ equity, while fulfilling other Constitutional criteria such as his most recent period of service as a CEO being at least three years.
Mr Tan, also 75, was the CEO of NTUC Income for 30 years until 2007. After leaving the insurer, he started a computer software business and travelled regularly to provide insurance consultancy in Indonesia.
This is Mr Tan’s second bid for the presidency. He was unsuccessful in his 2011 attempt, coming in last out of four candidates and losing his deposit of S$48,000 at the time.
Mr Tharman meanwhile met public sector service requirements, having held office as a minister for at least three years.
The 66-year-old was an economist and civil servant, mainly at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before joining politics in 2001. He served as Minister for Education and Finance, and was Deputy Prime Minister from 2011 to 2019.
The next step for Mr Ng, Mr Tan and Mr Tharman is to be nominated as candidates. They must deliver their nomination papers - along with the Certificate of Eligibility, community certificate and political donation certificate - on Nomination Day on Aug 22.
REASONS NOT GIVEN FOR UNSUCCESSFUL APPLICATIONS
On Friday, ELD said unsuccessful applicants for a certificate of eligibility were told of the reasons for the PEC's decision. But these will not be published, along with the names of the applicants, "in light of the concern ... that potential applicants may be dissuaded from stepping forward to contest the elections for fear of embarrassment".
"However, unsuccessful applicants are not precluded from publishing the committee’s reasons provided to them," the department added.
The PEC later decided on Friday night to make public the reasons for rejecting Mr Goh's application after the businessman said that the committee "took a very narrow interpretation of the requirements without explaining the rationale behind its decision".
It said Mr Goh was deemed ineligible to run in the Presidential Election as his experience and ability in managing five smaller companies is not equivalent to a "very large" one, as required under the Constitution.
Since the founder of Harvey Norman Ossia made public in June his bid for the presidency, there have been questions over whether he would meet the eligibility criteria.
The 63-year-old had argued at a press conference on Aug 4 that he had a group of five companies with a combined shareholders’ equity of S$1.521 billion (US$1.12 billion) over three years, and reiterated that he was confident of qualifying under the private sector deliberative track.
The Community Committee also received 16 community declarations at the close of applications on Thursday. Five Chinese community certificates and one Indian or other Minority communities certificates were issued, with 10 rejected.
On Jun 1, the Elections Department announced that the Registers of Electors would be updated and opened for public inspection. Applications for the Certificate of Eligibility and community certificate for potential candidates opened on Jun 13.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued the Writ of Election on Aug 11.
Each candidate must also pay a deposit of S$40,500, which can be done before Nomination Day.
Nomination proceedings will take place at the People's Association auditorium at King George's Avenue between 11am and 12pm on Aug 22. If more than one candidate is nominated, Singaporeans will go to the polls on Sep 1, which will be declared a public holiday.
Qualified candidates may begin their campaign from the notice of a contested election until the start of Cooling-off Day, which is on the eve of Polling Day.
The last contested Presidential Election was in August 2011, which saw four candidates vying for the post. The following Presidential Election in 2017, which was reserved for Malay candidates, was uncontested.
Incumbent President Halimah Yacob, whose term ends on Sep 13, had earlier announced that she would not be standing for a second term.