Editor’s note: We will be updating this article as more candidates come forward to run for Singapore’s Presidential Elections 2023.
This year, we are gearing up for presidential elections as President Halimah Yaacob’s term comes to an end this 13 September. This pivotal event invites eligible citizens to elect the next leader who will navigate the nation’s future. Hopefully we don’t repeat what happened previously. Madam Halimah Yacob became Singapore’s President in 2017 after other potential candidates failed to qualify.
PAP-backed Candidate – Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was the first to announce his decision to run for presidency. On 11 June, he released a statement indicating that he will be resigning from PAP for this. He was one of the most popular PAP members. Having served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Education, he also once served as the Director of the Economics Department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), was fined $1,500 for a charge of negligence under the Official Secrets Act in 1992. This was curiously less than the fines given to his co-accused journalists who had seen his figures.
Interestingly, this amount was just below the threshold that would have disqualified him from becoming a Member of Parliament (MP). Notably, a few years following this incident, Mr Tharman resigned from his position at the MAS to stand as an MP in Jurong GRC.
Many Singaporeans have said that Tharman should become our Prime Minister, and that he may be a little too overqualified for the role of a president. After all, the president of Singapore is often seen as a puppet to the ruling party.
Ex-GIC Investment Chief – Ng Kok Song
On 19 July 2023, the former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song turned up at ELD to collect forms for presidential election. The 75-year-old had told The Straits Times on July 15 that he was “deliberating” running for President, as it was an issue of great national importance and there would be immense personal implications.
Mr Ng joined the public service in 1970 as an investment analyst with the Finance Ministry, after graduating with a physics degree from the University of Singapore. The Public Service Commission scholarship recipient then moved to the Monetary Authority of Singapore a year later, when it was formed. In 1986, five years after GIC was formed, Mr Ng joined it to head the equities and bonds department. He was the fund’s first non-expatriate director.
In 2007, he was made GIC’s first group chief investment officer, a post he held till he retired in 2013.
Ng Kok Song is also known for being the one who taught Lee Kuan Yew meditation. Watch him talk about it here:
Presidential Elections Veteran/ex-NTUC Income CEO – Tan Kin Lian
Tan Kin Lian ran for presidential elections in 2011, where he received 4.91 per cent of the votes – the lowest of the four candidates. He lost his election deposit of S$48,000 for failing to meet the minimum threshold of 12.5 per cent.
Asked why he decided to run despite his 2011 showing, Tan said that he was “quite prepared to stand aside” when George Goh expressed interest in contesting, but later noticed comments that Goh might not qualify.
He was the chief executive officer of NTUC Income from 1977 to 2007; in the last three years of his stewardship of the insurer, it had an average shareholders’ equity of more than S$500 million. Tan Kin Lian’s backer is his former opponent Tan Jee Say. His seconder is lawyer and opposition politician Lim Tean.
Independent Candidate – George Goh Ching Wah [Did not receive COE]
The second to announce his decision to stand for election is Harvey Norman Ossia’s founder George Goh. On 12 June, the 63-year-old shared that he made his decision in 2017 to stand for election, after the eligibility requirement for private sector candidates was raised.
George Goh is chairman of Ossia International, chairman of Internet Technology Group, co-founder of UnitedEnvirotech, and deputy chairman of Pertama Holdings Limited. He is also the co-founder of charitable organization Border Mission and is a Council Member at the Red Cross Society. He has been serving as the non-resident Singapore Ambassador to Morocco since 2017.
“He has no political baggage. He was never in the public sector. He is an entrepreneur who started working at the age of 16, and has since built a business empire spanning 14 countries…
It is time to have a truly independent person with a pair of fresh eyes to play the role the elected president was created for.”George Goh’s team
It is also noteworthy that George Goh is a pious member of his church. Recently, he featured in interviews with Salt&Light where he talked about his faith. In the latest update, Ex-Senior SPH Editor Bertha Henson also revealed that she is the media advisor behind George Goh’s team.
Not-Sure-If-Can-Be-Candidate – Seng Soon Kia [Did not receive COE]
Shortly after George Goh’s arrival on the same day, an ex-secondary school teacher Seng Soon Kia showed up to collect his form. He shares that he was born on 1952, but he has experience as the president of Singapore in 1951.
According to Straits Times, this Mr Seng says he wants to become president to reinforce work-from-home. He also wished to improve the condition of public toilets and the standard of public bus services. Mr Seng said he had written down more issues to be addressed, but had left his notes at home.
Commander-In-Chief Wannabe – Teo En Ming [Did not receive COE]
Online, Teo En Ming calls himself Turritopsis Dohrnii, the name for a species of biologically immortal jellyfish. He announced his plans to run on 29 June 2023, and said that if he wins he will be the commander in chief of the army, navy, air force, and marine corp.