Ensuring minority representation an over-idealistic concept?

It is worrying that only one person from within the Malay community has emerged eligible and willing to become Singapore's next president (Halimah Yacob set to be next president; Sept 12).

First, it begs the uncomfortable hypothetical question of what happens if Madam Halimah Yacob is unable to serve the full term as president, for whatever reason.

Would it not imply that there are no immediate backup candidates that could run in a by-election to fill her place?

It also begs the question of whether ensuring minority representation in the elected presidency is an over-idealistic notion that actually does not bear out in reality, simply due to a lack of eligible candidates.

If it has been impossible to gather a handful of suitable candidates from the Malay community - the second-largest racial community in Singapore - what would the prospects be when it comes to finding candidates from, say, the Indian community in a future presidential election?

Were the eligibility criteria too stringent? In particular, were the criteria for candidates from the private sector almost impossible to meet?

How many Singaporeans are chief executives of companies with $500 million in shareholder equity, and how many Malay Singaporeans in the private sector tick all the boxes required to be president?

Perhaps the elected presidency system needs to be reviewed again, so that we may have a larger pool of candidates in the next election.

Chan Yeow Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Ensuring minority representation an over-idealistic concept?'. Print Edition | Subscribe