Multiracial leadership boosts Republic's international standing

The opinions articulated by Dr Norshahril Saat ("Necessary tokenism to boost long-term multiracialism") and Mr Nizam Idris ("Big step backwards for Malay community"; both published on Nov 15) were extremely insightful, allowing us to understand the thinking of the "for" and "against" camps in the Malay community on reserved elections for the presidency.

I would like to see a minority-race president of Singapore urgently.

This is not only for domestic politics, but also because of its relevance for Singapore's competitive edge as a multiracial and multicultural country.

When the top echelon of Singapore's leadership is made up of only the Chinese race for too long, the international community will invariably regard Singapore as a Chinese-only nation.

While the ideal scenario would be for a Malay candidate to be elected based on a presidential election that is open to all races, as supported by Mr Nizam, the reality is that this may be very hard to achieve.

This is not because there are not enough eligible candidates, but that not all eligible people (of any race) would wish to stand for election in the first place.

With Singapore's demographics favouring Singaporean Chinese, we must ensure that the few minority-race candidates who are willing to stand for election have a level playing field to compete.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Multiracial leadership boosts Republic's international standing'. Print Edition | Subscribe