Former PAP Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Mr Inderjit Singh, has weighed in on the reserved presidential election that is likely to be held in September.
In November 2016, Parliament announced new amendments to the elected presidential scheme and outlined that since there has not been a President from the Malay community for five consecutive terms, the 2017 election will be reserved for those from the Malay community.
Writing in his Facebook page, Mr Singh opined that while Singaporeans should accept the reserved election system and the ultimate victor of the race as the country’s president, certain issues still need to be resolved before the race formally begins.
He wrote, “Many of us are saddened with the recent developments and comments from different quarters of society but I hope that we can put all these differences behind us. Once the new President is elected, we should all unite behind that person and focus on uniting the nation so that the respect accrued to the office of the President remains intact.
“To help that process, I feel that the following issues need to be addressed fast before we go into the formal PE 2017 process:”
Mr Singh first said that it is important to establish who Singapore’s first elected president is. The government has maintained that President Wee Kim Wee is the first since the elected presidency scheme was instated in the middle of his term and because the claim President Wee exercised the powers of the elected president following this, even though he was an appointed president. This is in contrast to many in civil society that assert that President Ong Teng Cheong is the first to be formally elected into office by the people.
Mr Singh pointed to the court proceedings initiated by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, a former PAP MP and Presidential nominee who had planned to contest the election this year after losing the last race by 0.35% of votes. He said, “The court will be deciding on this very soon, but I feel the policy makers could have avoided this question all together by paying more attention to this issue – the constitution could have said that the 5th election should be a reserved election and not the 6th. Nevertheless, once the courts decide, we have to move on.”
He also discussed the concept of “Malayness” and questioned why the process for classifying an individual as Malay or Indian in the General or Presidential Elections is not aligned with how individuals are classified by race by organisations like SINDA or MENDAKI.
Mr Singh urged more qualified Malay candidates to throw their hat in the ring as it is “very important that Singaporeans and the rest of the world see that we have enough qualified Malays in Singapore who meet the very stringent requirements set in the constitution. It will be a pity if we don’t have enough qualified candidates to choose from for the first ever reserved PE. So, I hope all those who meet the criteria, come forward for this wider call.”
Finally, he zeroed in on Mdm Halimah Yacob, PAP MP and Speaker of Parliament, who has said that she is eyeing the race. Reports are circulating that Mdm Halimah is already making plans to handover her duties as a sitting politician, even as she insits she is “still thinking.” Nevertheless, Mdm Halimah is already fixed as the choice establishment candidate to contest the election in many citizens’ mind.
On Mdm Halimah, Mr Singh said: “While the constitution is open about having a current sitting government politician standing for the PE, some Singaporeans have expressed concerns on the prospects of a current government MP, still in parliament, resigning as an MP and immediately standing for the PE. The spirit of the Elected President is independence of office as intended by Mr Lee Kuan Yew when the idea was mooted. While I have no question about how each person will do his or her duty to serve the office they are elected to serve, public perception is also important. While Mr Ong Teng Cheong also did the same in 1993, I sense people are increasingly uncomfortable with this.”
He concluded his post, urging all to stand united as Singaporeans and show respect for our President no matter who he – or she! – will be.
“As the Head of State, the President of Singapore holds the highest office and he or she must get the full respect of all Singaporeans. I hope the above issues are addressed before PE 2017 kicks off formally. It is good that Singaporeans are debating the issue of the reserved PE. My hope is that we can largely come to an understanding of the above 4 issues before we kick off PE 2017. And once our President has been elected, let’s all show respect for the President of Singapore and stand united as Singaporeans.”
PE 2017In less than 2 months, Singaporeans will get a new elected President. Unlike the past Presidential Elections…
Among other issues, Mr Singh also lent his voice to the Oxley saga in early June, opining that for Singapore to move on “everyone must give up something.” Read his bold statement at TISG: