Singapore keeps tight rein on poll: All presidential candidates have been scrupulously vetted, writes Raymond Whitaker

IT PROMISES to be one of the politest election campaigns in history. The leading candidate does not plan any public meetings, because his opponent - whose backers admit he is only standing to provide a contest - does not want them. All other candidates have been ruled out for lacking such qualities as 'top integrity, good character and reputation'.

But voting is compulsory, and the post at stake, the presidency of Singapore, has been given greatly increased powers. The main question is why Lee Kuan Yew is not running for a job seemingly designed for him.

Mr Lee, whose 31-year term as prime minister saw Singapore rise from a sleepy port to First World status, and who retains power behind the scenes as senior member without portfolio in Goh Chok Tong's cabinet, has often warned that a freak election result could bring in a corrupt government which might wreck the economy and squander the island state's reserves of about dollars 43bn (pounds 28.85bn). His solution was an executive presidency with sweeping veto powers over economic matters, national security policy and official appointments.

Stung by accusations that this was a device to retain power, Mr Lee said he would not be Singapore's first executive president. He has not ruled out standing another time, however, and at 69 appears healthy enough to be in the running when the post next comes up in 1999.

To ensure the voters are given no opportunity to choose someone unsuitable, presidential candidates have to show a depth of training and experience - not to mention subjective requirements such as 'integrity' - that makes no more than 400 Singaporeans eligible, according to Mr Goh. Earlier this week a government- dominated committee rejected the credentials of two opposition leaders, Tan Soo Phuan and J B Jeyaretnam. It found only the two pro-government candidates worthy of a 'certificate of eligibility'.

Yesterday Ong Teng Cheong, 57, who resigned as deputy prime minister last week, and the 67-year-old former accountant-general, Chua Kim Yeow, who agreed to stand to ensure a contest, filed their nomination papers. Police escorted Mr Tan out of the building when he tried to do the same, despite lacking a certificate.

Few doubt that Mr Ong will win on 28 August. 'Basically there's only one candidate, with the other candidate supporting his opponent,' a Western diplomat told Reuters.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea