Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ng Kok Song, Tan Kin Lian eligible for Singapore presidential race

Three hopefuls were approved by Elections Department, while entrepreneur George Goh's application was among those rejected.

Eligible Candidates for Singapore's Upcoming Presidential Election: Former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Former GIC Chief Investment Officer Ng Kok Song, and Former Presidential Contender Tan Kin Lian.
Eligible Candidates for Singapore's Upcoming Presidential Election: Former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Former GIC Chief Investment Officer Ng Kok Song, and Former Presidential Contender Tan Kin Lian. (PHOTO: Bloomberg and Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song, and former presidential contender Tan Kin Lian have been officially recognised as eligible candidates for Singapore's upcoming Presidential Election, according to an announcement from the Elections Department (ELD) on Friday (18 August)

However, businessman George Goh's application for a Certificate of Eligibility was not successful.

ELD said in a media release that it had received a total of six applications for the Certificate of Eligibility by the deadline on Thursday. Additionally, the department received 16 community declarations when applications closed.

Why were the three candidates issued certificates of eligibility?

The Certificate of Eligibility serves as a confirmation that a candidate possesses integrity, good character, and a reputable background, while also fulfilling the required public sector or private sector service criteria.

According to ELD, its presidential elections committee has verified Ng's integrity, character, and reputation. With a tenure of over three years as the group chief investment officer at GIC, his experience aligns with the eligibility criteria, making him fit for Presidential responsibilities.

Tharman's application, on the other hand, satisfied Article 19(3)(a) of the Constitution, due to his service as a Minister for a period exceeding three years. The presidential elections committee has also confirmed his integrity and reputation.

Similarly, Tan's application corresponds to Article 19(4)(b) of the Constitution that attests to his integrity and reputation. With a leadership role spanning over three years at NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative Limited, Tan's experience mirrors the criteria, establishing his capability for Presidential duties.

Next step in Singapore's presidential race

The next procedural step for Tharman, Ng and Tan is to secure their nominations as official candidates. This involves submitting their nomination papers, along with the Certificate of Eligibility, community certificate, and political donation certificate, on Nomination Day on 22 August.

The nomination proceedings are scheduled to take place at the People's Association auditorium on King George's Avenue between 11am and 12pm on 22 August.

Among the candidates, Tharman was the first to declare his intention to run on 8 June, followed by Goh on 12 June and Ng on 19 July. Tan officially launched his bid on 11 August.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had issued the Writ of Election on 11 August.

If more than one candidate is successfully nominated, the Singaporean public will participate in voting on 1 September, which will be declared a public holiday.

George Goh disappointed by application rejection

In a press statement released on Friday, Goh said he was "very disappointed" at the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee to reject his application for a certificate of eligibility.

He said his legal and financial team had submitted a "very strong case" outlining his experience and performance in managing five companies.

He added that these companies met the necessary criteria of shareholders' equity and profitability and that he had held the position of the most senior executive in each of them.

Goh explained the committee did not accept Goh's argument that his collective experience across various companies was equivalent to that of a single company CEO.

"The PEC rejected our argument that my experience in these companies was equivalent to that of a CEO running a single company, and took a very narrow interpretation of the requirements without explaining the rationale behind its decision," he said.

"This decision has deprived Singaporeans of a wider choice to select who the next President will be. It is a setback not just for me but for Singapore." Goh added.

Goh then expressed his gratitude to the many Singaporeans who rallied behind him during the weeks leading up to the announcement.

He said: "I am saddened, but I am heartened by the support shown to me by many Singaporeans over the past few weeks, and I would like to thank all of them for their support."

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