Featured News Some activists call for elected presidency scheme to be abolished following Tharman's...

Some activists call for elected presidency scheme to be abolished following Tharman’s bid for the role

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Although SAFER noted that "even a walkover would be more forgivable than on previous occasions," given how likeable Mr Tharman is, his candidacy and likely victory still raises critical questions that underscore serious issues within the elected presidency scheme as it stands.

SINGAPORE: The activists behind the ‘Singapore Advocacy For Electoral Reform’ (SAFER) Facebook page have called for the elected presidency scheme to be abolished, hours after Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced his plans to retire from politics and contest the next presidential election, that will take place later this year.

Like the vast majority of Singaporeans, SAFER recognizes that Mr Tharman is an exceptional candidate for the role and noted that he is likely to unify Singaporeans of varying political leanings, as he has vowed to do.

It said, in a post published Friday morning (9 June):

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“The man once-often touted by some punters to succeed PM Lee Hsien Loong (with them not realising his age ruled him out) is an acceptable figure to people across political “shades”.

“From time to time, he has put in a fair word for the political opposition, rarely landing into altercations with them and his criticisms being neither abrasive nor snarky when he did. He is someone who can work with the government of the day and not be an “opposition president”, but likely to be independent enough when the need arises.

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“Overall, he is expected to be closest to a unifying elected President Singapore ever had since the late Ong Teng Cheong.”

Although SAFER noted that “even a walkover would be more forgivable than on previous occasions,” given how likeable Mr Tharman is, his candidacy and likely victory still raises critical questions that underscore serious issues within the elected presidency scheme as it stands.

It said: “…if Tharman wins, it would raise the conundrum that all elected Presidents, save for one, had been ruling party politicians largely because of the way presidential election rules are crafted. Although any derision towards the process would not be against him personally, it still invites the call for the elected presidency to be abolished, or at the least, the rules sorely need to reviewed.”

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Prominent local activist Andrew Loh backed SAFER’s call, raising serious concerns about the elected presidency scheme on his own Facebook page on Friday. Sharing SAFER’s post minutes after it was published, Mr Loh pointed out:

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“Walkover presidential (non)elections, and vacant minority seats in GRCs, on top of 4 out of 5 presidents being ex-PAP ministers, with 3 of them (including Tharman) being ex-DPMs.

“There have been 9 times where vacant parliamentary seats were not filled because the PM chose not to call by-elections.

“By 2007*, the Constitution had been amended the most number of times because of changes made to the presidency. The last significant change made was the constitutional amendment to introduce the Reserved Election.”

He asked: “Our parliamentary election laws have also seen significant changes after every election to, some critics say, handicap the opposition parties in the following elections. Does this sort of system look right to you?”

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Read also:

PE2023: Will Tan Kin Lian be a Goliath slayer? – Singapore News

PE2023: In the race, Lim Hng Khiang? Or Khaw Boon Wan? – Singapore News 

PE2023: Get a real president this time, we have already wasted six years – Singapore News

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PE2023: Have a real contest or simply make it an Endorsed Presidency – Singapore News

PE2023: Restore integrity of the presidency, let’s have a real fight this time – Singapore News

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