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How Much Can Candidates Spend On The Singapore Presidential Election And How Are Expenses Calculated

Candidates can spend up to $812,822.10 in election expenses for the 2023 Presidential Election.

In the last contested Presidential Election in 2011, four candidates (Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Jee Say, Tan Kin Lian, Tony Tan) spent $1.3 million in total.

Contesting to be a President of Singapore requires expenses if you want to gain a better reach to eligible Singaporeans from all walks of life.

How much election expenses can 2023 Presidential Candidates Ng Kok Song, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Tan Kin Lian spend? We break down the information for you.

How Much Can Candidates Spend On The Singapore Presidential Election

The Elections Department (ELD) said candidates can spend up to $812,822.10 in election expenses for the 2023 Presidential Election.

This amount is based on conditions set by the Presidential Elections Act. The spending limit for election expenses is currently $600,000 or 30 cents per registered voter, whichever is greater.

There is an increase in 55,000 voters from the last General Election in 2020 and for this Presidential Election, 2,709,455 people are eligible to vote.

In 2011, the maximum limit for election expenses was $682,431. For context, in the 2011 Presidential Election, Tony Tan (who won the election with 35.2% of votes) spent $503,070, Tan Cheng Bock (34.85% of votes) spent $585,045, Tan Jee Say (25.04% of votes) spent $162,337, and Tan Kin Lian (4.91% of votes) spent $70,912.

Spending more than the limit is illegal. The limit is to ensure a level playing field and prevent “money politics”.

What Are The Rules Of Campaigning

Campaigning begins after nomination proceedings conclude on August 22 and ends on the eve of Polling Day. Polling Day is on Sept 1.

Candidates are encouraged to use platforms that reach out to voters at large such as television broadcasts and social media.

Candidates may generally engage in the following activities during the campaign period, subject to them obtaining the relevant licences or permits from other regulatory authorities or the Returning Officer accordingly and within limits prescribed by law:

  • Conduct walkabouts and house-to-house visits;
  • Distribute pamphlets, handouts, newsletters;
    publish manifestos;
  • Publish candidate’s biographical details;
  • Use private vehicles (whether mechanically propelled or otherwise) for broadcasting of election messages;
  • Organise election meetings;
  • Publicly display traditional election advertising, i.e. non-online election advertising in the form of a banner, flag or poster; and
  • Publish Online Election Advertising (OEA), i.e. election advertising that is published in any way that renders the election advertising accessible from the Internet.

Local free-to-air television and radio channels will give airtime to each candidate. Candidates who intend to distribute or publicly exhibit films must submit them to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for classification.

Election activity includes any activity that is done for the purpose of promoting or procuring the electoral success at any election for any candidate; or for the purpose of prejudicing the electoral prospects at the election of any other candidate.

The following persons cannot take part in election activity:

  • a person who is below 16 years of age;
  • a person who has an order of supervision made against him under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act 1955; and
  • a person who is a foreigner or foreign entity.

How To Declare Election Expenses

The ELD states that at the end of the Presidential Election, every candidate and the appointed election agent must account for all his election expenses and submit a declaration as well as a return of election expenses to the Returning Officer within 31 days after the day on which the result of the election is published in the Singapore Government Gazette.

Thereafter, these election expenses will be opened to members of the public for inspection for a period of six months.

Can Presidential Candidates Receive Donations

Candidates can also receive donations to help cover their expenses. Donations include goods and services, money, property and loan facilities provided on less than commercial terms.

Political donations are only accepted if the Singapore Citizen is older than 21, or if the Singapore-controlled firms have business wholly or mainly in Singapore.

Donations from a foreigner cannot be accepted, even if they are channelled through a permissible source.

How Much Are The Current Presidential Candidates Spending

Presidential Candidate Tan Kin Lian has told the media that he expects to spend around $50,000 to $150,000, with a large sum coming from his personal savings. He hopes to raise $50,000 in donations.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Presidential Candidate, will spend within the expenditure guidelines, according to team representatives who spoke to the media.

Mr Ng Kok Song, Presidential Candidate, said he will also spend below the expenditure limit set by the ELD and will fund the campaign with his personal savings.

There’s Also The Election Deposit Candidates Need To Make

Each candidate needs to make a deposit of $40,500 during Nomination Day, which was on August 22. This amount is refundable if the candidate receives 12.5% or more votes. Candidates who fail to secure that number of votes will have their deposit forfeited.

The deposit is to reduce the participation of candidates with no realistic chance of winning a seat.

Read Also: From GIC Chief Investment Officer To Presidential Hopeful: Ng Kok Song Shares The Key Differences And Similarities Between Both Roles, And Why He Wants To Take On The Top Job

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