ONLY HALIMAH AUTOMATICALLY QUALIFIES AS PRESIDENT NOW, WILL THERE BE ELECTIONS?

Dear A.S.S. Editor

I refer to the article “Halimah Yacob submits application to contest presidential election” (Straits Times, Aug 31). It states that “Now that Madam Halimah has submitted her forms, it is up to the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) to decide whether there will be a contest, or a walkover.

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Madam Halimah is the only aspiring candidate to automatically qualify so far, having served as Speaker of Parliament for more than three years. The two other hopefuls, Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican, 67, and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62, fall short of the criteria for private sector candidates. They must have run a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity, on average, for the most recent three years.

Mr Salleh’s investment holdings and retail firm had equity of between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the past three financial years, while Mr Farid’s offshore marine firm reportedly has equity of about US$300 million, or S$408.5 million. The PEC, however, has the discretion to allow a candidate, who does not automatically meet the criteria, to contest.” Thus, unless the PEC decides to use its discretion to allow one or both of the other two candidates to contest, despite their not meeting the $500 million criteria – it is likely that there may be a walkover on 13 September.

If so, this would be the third walkover in Singapore’s history. Are there any other countries in the world that has walkovers in their presidential elections? Is our mainstream media (ranked 151st for Press Freedom in the world) arguably, preparing Singaporeans for possibly, the obvious foregone conclusion on 13 September?

In the two contested elections – Mr Ong Teng Cheong (1993) and Mr Tony Tan (2011) won by 58.7 per cent (winner’s majority: 17.4%) and 35.2 per cent (winner’s majority: 0.34%), respectively.Given the widespread unease amongst Singaporeans – even if there is a walkover – shouldn’t there be an affirmation vote by the people, as suggested by Prof Kevin Y L Tan?

Leong Sze Hian

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