A Bill to amend the Presidential Elections Act was tabled in Parliament and the changes are intended to effect amendments to the Constitution which were passed in November last year, and to improve the processes and procedures of the upcoming Presidential Election.
It is said that the MPs will debate the latest amendments when Parliament sits in February.
The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill will be passed despite Workers' Party opposing stance on the amendments, due to People's Action Party's majority hold on seats. The amendments will come just in time for this year's election, which is due by the end of August.
Under the proposed changes, candidates will be given more time to apply for a certificate of eligibility, five days up from three days, as the new eligibility criteria require them to submit more information.
The Presidential Elections Committee will also be given more time to vet these new eligibility criteria.
Another change is that Nomination Day will start a minimum of 10 days after the Prime Minister issues the writ of election, longer from the current minimum of five days.
The next change is that a 16-member Community Committee, will be set up, consist of a chairman, and three sub-committees for the Chinese, Malay, and Indian and other minority groups. Each sub-committee will have five members. will be set up to make sure the practice of reserved elections runs smoothly, which will assess whether a candidate belongs to a particular racial group.
They will be set up to make sure the practice of reserved elections runs smoothly, which will assess whether a candidate belongs to a particular racial group.
According to the amendments that have been proposed, provisions will be put in place to ensure that people of minority groups are elected as president from time to time.
A presidential election will be reserved for members of a particular racial group if there has not been a president from the group for the five most recent presidential terms. However, if no eligible candidate from that group comes forward, the election will be reserved for another eligible group.
A fresh writ will be issued declaring an open election only in the event that no other group is eligible.
Each person who wants to run for president must declare to the Community Committee which of the three main communities they consider themselves a part of.
They will later be issued a certificate for that community if the sub-committee is satisfied that they belong to that community.
As the upcoming election will be reserved for Malay candidates, candidates must have a Malay community certificate to run.
The Parliament also heard that in an open election, every candidate must also declare the racial group they belong to. In order for the Government to determine when reserved elections should happen.
It is also said that a person who does not belong to the Chinese, Malay, and Indian and other minority groups will not be issued a community certificate. However, he or she can still stand in an open election if he or she gets a certificate of eligibility. were proposed to make elections more efficient.
The last change was a proposal to make elections more efficient, the deadline to register as an overseas voter will be extended to make it more convenient for overseas Singaporeans to vote from abroad.
The Parliament heard that it will now be two calendar days after the issue of the writ of election, instead of on the day it is issued.
In addition, recounts of votes will be automatically done if the number of votes between the top candidate and any other candidate is 2 percent or less of the total valid votes.
This is said to avoid unnecessary delays as currently, the 2 percent margin allows candidates or their counting agent to ask for a recount.
A common belief by citizens is that there will be no contest in the upcoming election due to the raised bar for private candidate and the racial criteria which is arguably put in place to block the favourite candidate, Dr Tan Cheng Bock from contesting in the upcoming Presidential Election. The government has acknowledged in Parliament that they are unaware if there are eligible candidates in the private sector while at the same time, confident that there are.
It is pretty much certain at this point that the PAP endorsed candidate will be Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob, based on the media coverage that has been given to her over the past months since the passing of the new amendments to the Presidential Election Act.