Mr Tan Kin Lian, candidate for the 2011 Presidential Election, has said that the Office of the President should revert to being an appointed one.
He said, “the Constitutional Commission has recommended, as an option, a return to the appointed President to carry out ceremonial function.”
The Constitutional Commission suggested that the President’s custodial role could be devolved to an appointed body of experts as a “second chamber” of Parliament that has the ability to delay measures, debate on them and require the government to override objections only if there is a “super majority”.
Mr Tan said that this was an excellent recommendation, and that he agreed with it. He noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had disagreed with this recommendation, and hoped that the Mr Lee would change his mind.
“We have already wasted too much resources and energy in trying to develop the “elected president” system,” Mr Tan said.
“It was a badly conceived idea in the first place. We should recognize that it will never work and go back to the previous system, with the modification suggested by the commission,” he added.
If the sweeping changes are accepted and passed as legislation by Parliament, from the candidates who contested in the 2011 Presidential Election, only Dr Tony Tan (who is now the President) and Mr Tan Kin Lian would qualify for the contest.
Mr Tan was previously the CEO of NTUC Income from 1977 to 2007, and was a strong proponent of the cooperative principle. He grew the cooperative’s assets 600 times; from $28 million in 1977 to $17 billion when he left in 2007.
He ran the insurance cooperative in a manner which kept operating expenses low and paid shareholders dividends (restricted by law) which averaged 6 percent a year.
The Workers’ Party head, Low Thia Khiang, too has supported the idea of the Office of the President being reverted to a custodial one. He said that the Office was created by the People’s Action Party (PAP) to check on a ‘rogue’ opposition government being formed in the future. He warned that what Singaporeans will likely need to fear is not a rogue opposition government, but a future PAP one.
He cautioned that with a PAP-liant Elected President from the establishment, there are greater risks to the reserves being whisked away.