SINGAPORE: The upcoming presidential election’s timeline has been a cause for concern among political figures in the country, as evidenced by the recent comments of former Workers’ Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong and presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian.
The dates for the Presidential Election were announced by the Elections Department last Friday (11 Aug) after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued the writ of election.
In a detailed Facebook post, Yee criticized the seemingly compressed schedule, suggesting that the system could be manipulated to favour certain candidates and hinder others.
He expressed concern over the limited time between confirming a candidate’s eligibility and the actual campaign period.
Yee drew attention to the challenges of managing election logistics, emphasizing that, “Having taken part in elections before, the logistics required for just a campaign at the SMC or GRC level is already quite onerous, let alone a national campaign.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Tan Kin Lian, in a separate statement, drew attention to the one-day gap between the announcement of eligible candidates and Nomination Day.
The former NTUC Income CEO described the timeframe as “unduly tight,” emphasizing the challenges candidates face in reaching agreements to prevent vote division and in preparing campaign materials on such short notice.
While Yee raised broader concerns about the manipulation of democratic processes, Tan offered a more detailed analysis of the financial risks involved.
Highlighting the dilemma faced by candidates, Tan asked, “With the cost of posters and banners potentially reaching or even exceeding $50,000, is it fair to expect a candidate to bear such a financial risk?”
Both figures advocate for a more transparent and extended timeline, with Tan specifically suggesting, “A clear 10-day window between the presidential election committee’s decision and the nomination submission.”
Yee ended his post with a call to value the democratic process, noting, “Sure, we want the best candidates and good government, but there’s a limit.”
In contrast, Tan provided a candid revelation about his own decision, sharing, “I’ve decided to proceed with the printing of campaign materials, fully recognizing the financial risk involved.”
To date, the presidential race has four notable figures expressing their intent to participate: People’s Action Party’s former Senior Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Entrepreneur George Goh; former GIC Investment Chief, Ng Kok Song; and former NTUC Income Chief, Tan Kin Lian.
Only Tharman qualifies outright to stand in the upcoming election as a public sector candidate. The other three will receive confirmation of their eligibility by 21 August.
Candidates will file their nomination papers at the People’s Association headquarters at 9 King George’s Avenue on 22 August. If there is only one candidate, that person will be declared president.