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Indian-origin ex-minister qualified to run in Singapore's presidential election


Published on: August 18, 2023 | Updated on: August 18, 2023

Singapore-born Indian-origin Tharman Shanmugaratnam has qualified to run for the city-state's presidential election on September 1 (AFP)

Singapore: Singapore-born Indian-origin Tharman Shanmugaratnam and two Chinese-origin former executives of government-linked companies have qualified to run for the city-state's presidential election on September 1, it was announced on Friday. The Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) received a total of six applications for the Certificate of Eligibility by Thursday's deadline, the Elections Department (ELD) said.

Singapore had earlier said it would hold the presidential election on September 1 if more than one person qualifies for the presidential run. Incumbent President Halimah Yacob's six-year term will end on September 13.

The two Chinese origin who have qualified as candidates for the presidential election are Chief Investment Officer Ng Kok Song and former NTUC Income Chief Executive Tan Kin Lian.

The department noted that Tharman submitted his bid under the public sector service track while Ng applied under the public sector deliberative track, and Tan under the private sector deliberative track.

Tharman who launched his bid for the presidency on July 26 met the public sector service requirements, having held office as a minister for at least three years.

Tharman, 66, resigned from public and political posts last month to run for the presidency.

Tharman was an economist and civil servant, mainly at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before joining politics in 2001.

He served as Minister for Education and Finance and was Deputy Prime Minister from 2011 to 2019.

The next step for Ng, Tan and Tharman is to be nominated as candidates.
They must deliver their nomination papers - along with the Certificate of Eligibility, community certificate and political donation certificate - on Nomination Day on August 22.

Although the ELD has not named the candidates who could not qualify to run for the Presidency, media reports said businessman George Goh, who had been campaigning for the past month, was among those who did not meet the qualification requirements.

The six-member PEC, headed by Public Service Commission chairman Lee Tzu Yang and including two Supreme Court judges, was satisfied that Ng, Tan and Tharman were men of "integrity, good character and reputation", said ELD.
The PEC was satisfied that Ng had the experience and ability comparable to that of a person who has served for three or more years as the chief executive of a Fifth Schedule entity, namely key statutory boards and government companies such as the Central Provident Fund Board, Temasek, and GIC.  Ng, 75, worked in the public service for 45 years, first in the Finance Ministry and then the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before becoming the chief investment officer at Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC.

The committee was satisfied that Tan had the experience and ability comparable to that of someone who has served as the chief executive of a company with at least SGD500 million of shareholders' equity while fulfilling other Constitutional criteria such as his most recent period of service as a CEO being at least three years.

Tan, also 75, was the CEO of NTUC Income for 30 years until 2007. After leaving the insurer, he started a computer software business and travelled regularly to provide insurance consultancy in Indonesia.