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Fifty-two years ago, a small undeveloped 700 kilometer set of islands separated from the Federation of Malaysia to form the Republic of Singapore. In the recent past the area was administered by the British East India Company and directly as the British Crown Colony of Singapore. In 1965 the GDP per capita was less than $320, roughly 10% of the American average at the time. Today the city-state of Singapore has risen to an incredible US $53,000 GDP per capita, making it the tenth highest in the world. For a country that lacks territory and natural resources, Singapore’s economic ascent to the top is nothing short of remarkable.
The President is the head of state of Singapore. The position is largely ceremonial, but enjoys several powers including withholding presidential assent on supply bills and changing or revoking civil service appointments. The current system of holding elections for the Presidency began with the 1993 election. Before then, the President was selected by Parliament. The extremely powerful Prime Minster and Parliament are held by the People’s Action Party. P.A.P., which was founded by Lee Kuan Yew who ruled Singapore from 1959 until 1990, and is proudly described as the nation’s founding father. He’s also the father of the current PM, Lee Hsien Loong.
The upcoming Presidential election to be held on September 23rd will be the first election reserved for candidates from the Malay community, following a review to ensure that all of Singapore’s multiracial society is represented. Over 2 million of Singapore’s 5.7 million population are Permanent Residents or Non-Residents. Almost 75% are ethnic Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indians, and remaining 3% listed as others.
The constitution and parliament have strict requirements for prospective candidates to the presidency. They must be over 45 years old, be a Singaporean resident for the past 10 years, and cannot be a member of any political party upon nomination. The candidate must also have served over three years in a high government position or president of one of the large state run businesses. Candidates without any previous government experience may still run for President if they are the senior executive of a company with an average of $500 million in shareholders’ equity for the most recent three years. This requirement can be waived at the discretion of the election department if the candidate has comparable position of seniority and responsibility administering and managing financial affairs.
Monday September 5th was the last day for candidates to submit their applications. The elections department has until September 12th to review the potential candidates and announce its decision. If two candidates are eligible to participate in the election, the third is automatically eligible.
Regardless of which candidate wins, you can expect this Asian Tiger to continue flying forward.
By: Samuel Hertz
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