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PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2017

Three applications already in the bag

Halimah Yacob submits forms to Elections Department; all candidates will find out by Sept 12 if they've made the cut

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Madam Halimah arriving at the Elections Department with her supporters.

Singapore

THERE are just four more days to go before applications for this month's presidential election close next Monday, and it is still anyone's guess whether at least two qualified candidates will emerge in order to force a contest.

So far, three Singaporeans - all successful people in their own fields - have turned up at the Elections Department (ELD) to submit their application forms, the latest being former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob who handed in her papers on Wednesday morning.

Last week, two business leaders - Second Chance Properties chief executive Salleh Marican and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan Kaim Khan - submitted their forms for the all-important Certificate of Eligibility and the Community Certificate.

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Obtaining the latter document is important as it certifies that the candidate is recognised as a member of the Malay community.

This presidential election is a historic one as it is the first to be reserved for people from the Malay community. The last Malay president was the late Yusof Ishak, who died while in office 47 years ago.

Madam Halimah, 63, arrived at the ELD's office along Prinsep Link with five members of her high-powered campaign team in tow, including her principal election agent Lawrence Leow, the group chairman and CEO of multi-business group Crescendas.

Also present was one of her former grassroots leaders, Bob Shaw, the chairman of Marsiling Citizens' Consultative Committee.

Madam Halimah resigned as a member of parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC earlier this month in order to take part in the presidential election.

The Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), headed by Public Service Commission chairman Eddie Teo, will screen all the applicants and inform them of its final decision by Sept 12, the eve of Nomination Day.

Nomination Day - the day when the presidential hopefuls have to submit all their documents together with their proposers, nominators and assentors - is scheduled to take place at the People's Association headquarters on the morning of Sept 13.

If two or more people are successful in their nominations, there will be nine days of campaigning before some 2.5 million voters get to cast their ballots on Sept 23.

Addressing reporters outside the ELD, Madam Halimah said she hoped to receive a "favourable response" as far as her application was concerned.

"As I have said repeatedly, my goal is to serve Singapore and Singaporeans with all my heart and with all my passion," the veteran politician and unionist said.

On Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued the writ of election, the ELD said that all candidates should campaign in a manner that befits the "dignity and role" of the President.

Commenting on this point, Madam Halimah said this served as a "timely reminder" to all candidates as they gear up for a potential contest.

"This is obviously an election for a very important position, and this is a very respected position so we do have to conduct ourselves properly," she said.

Madam Halimah, who spent 16 years in politics as a People's Action Party MP, said that she would reveal more details about her presidential campaign strategy at a later date.