SINGAPORE: On the heels of President Halimah Yacob’s announcement that she will not seek re-election, lawyer and noted socio-political commentator Yeoh Lian Chuan has called for reconsidering the elected presidency scheme in its current form.
Highlighting the scheme’s flaws and the need for fundamental changes, Mr Yeoh expressed concerns regarding the lack of real contests and the limiting qualifying criteria for the Head of State position in a Facebook post published yesterday (29 May).
Mr Yeoh pointed out that since the institution of the elected presidency in Singapore, there have been five presidential terms, with only one occasion featuring a genuine contest. He also criticized the notion that only CEOs of the largest corporations and former senior public officials are deemed qualified to hold the position of Singapore’s Head of State.
He called this qualifying criteria “unappealing” and asserted his belief that a broader range of candidates should be considered for the role.
The lawyer also said that the reserved election that was called in 2017 was introduced “prematurely and unnecessarily” by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Government.
Arguing that these three factors collectively indicate a fundamental conceptual flaw in the design of the elected presidency system, Mr Yeoh said that the Report of the 2016 Constitutional Commission suggests that the members of the Commission themselves acknowledged the need for significant improvements to the scheme. He wrote:
“These flaws were illustrated by the Report of the 2016 Constitutional Commission, which quite clearly chose to go beyond its terms of reference to ask if the Office of the Elected Presidency should remain as it is.
“Paragraphs 7.35 to 7.53 of the Report suggest clearly (at least to me) that the members of the Commission thought that the institution could have been better designed in a fundamental way.”
While Mr Yeoh is interested to see who will throw their hat into the ring as the next presidential election approaches, he asserted that it is essential to reassess and reconsider the Office of the Elected Presidency as established by the PAP Government, as the flaws in the system persist. Read his post in full here.
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