What are the Qualifications Required to Run for President in Singapore?
According to Article 19 of the Singapore Constitution, to qualify for election as President in Singapore, a person must:
- Be a Singapore citizen;
- Be at least 45 years old;
- Have his or her name appear in a current register of electors;
- Be resident in Singapore for at least 10 years before and up to the date of his or her nomination;
- Satisfy the Presidential Elections Committee (the PEC – explained below) that he or she is a person of integrity, good character and reputation.
- Not be a member of any political party on the date of his or her nomination for election;
- Not be found or declared to be of unsound mind;
- Not be an undischarged bankrupt;
- Not hold an office of profit;
- Has lodged returns of election expenses as required by law within the time and in the manner required;
- Not having been convicted of an offence and sentenced to at least 1 year’s jail or a fine of at least S$10,000 by a court (whether in Singapore or overseas), unless he or she received a free pardon. If the person was convicted of an offence overseas, the offence must be one that would have been punishable in Singapore if committed in Singapore;
- Not have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of, or exercised citizenship rights in, a foreign country or have made a declaration of allegiance to a foreign country;
- Not have been disqualified under any law relating to offences in connection with the office of President by reason of having been convicted of such an offence or having, in proceedings relating to such an election, been proved guilty of an act constituting such an offence; and
- Have, at the date of the writ of election, met either the public or private sector service requirements, and such period(s) of service must have partially or wholly fallen within the 20 years preceding the date of the writ.
If the election is a reserved one, you may also be required to be of a certain race before you qualify to run for president.
The PEC consists of the following key players who hold power in deciding whether a candidate is qualified to run for president;
- The chairman of the Public Service Commission
- The chairman of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority
- A member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights nominated by the Chairman of the Council.
- A member or former member of the Council of Presidential Advisers
- A person who is qualified to be or has been a Supreme Court Judge
- A person, who in the opinion of the Prime Minister has expertise and experience acquired in the private sector that is relevant to the functions of the Committee
Public sector service requirement
To fulfil the public sector service requirement, a person must have:
- Held office as Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, Attorney Attorney-General, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Auditor-General, Accountant-General or Permanent Secretary for at least 3 years; or
- Served as the chief executive of a key statutory board or government company, such as the Housing Development Board or GIC Private Limited, for at least 3 years.
The public sector service requirement can also be fulfilled if you have served at least 3 years in a public sector office, and the PEC is satisfied that, having regard to the nature of the office, your performance in the office, and any other factors it sees fit to consider, that you have the requisite experience and ability to effectively carry out the functions and duties of the office of President.
Private sector service requirement
To fulfil the private sector service requirement, a person must have served as the chief executive of a company, with his or her most recent period of service as chief executive being at least 3 years.
During this period of service, the company must, on average, have at least $500 million in shareholders’ equity, and have made profit after tax throughout the entire period.
Where the person has ceased to be chief executive of a company before the date of the writ of election, the company must also not have been subject to any insolvency event from the person’s last day of service as chief executive until (i) the date falling 3 days after that day; or (ii) the date of the writ of election, whichever is earlier.
The private sector service requirement can also be fulfilled if you have served at least 3 years in an office in a private sector organisation, and the PEC is satisfied that, having regard to the nature of the office, the size and complexity of the private sector organisation, your performance in the office, and any other factors it sees fit to consider, that you have the requisite experience and ability to effectively carry out the functions and duties of the office of President.
There is a long list of requirements to be fulfilled in order to run for President in Singapore, and some have argued that perhaps such criteria are too strict. In any case, qualifying as a candidate for the presidential election is really no mean feat.