Worth considering a return to system of appointed president

The Constitutional Commission's report is comprehensive and well thought out ("Panel proposes key changes to elected presidency"; Sept 8).

In particular, the commission addresses the key concerns of ensuring minority representation as well as enhancing the eligibility criteria for candidates.

The commission also suggested, although acknowledging that the matter was beyond its terms of reference, returning to the previous system of Parliament appointing the president, but with a body of experts appointed to fill the custodial role for protecting the national reserves ("Panel floats idea of returning to an appointed president"; Sept 8).

This suggestion merits serious consideration by Parliament.

Under the new eligibility criteria proposed by the commission, individuals who have held the most senior executive position in Singapore companies with shareholders' equity of or exceeding $500 million in March this year - there are at least 690 such firms - could run for president.

Although the number of eligible candidates may appear larger than in the 2011 presidential election, there will be that natural reluctance of eligible people from the private sector to enter politics.

Future candidates will most likely come from the public sector, such as former Cabinet ministers or office holders, as was the case with the two previous presidents and the incumbent.

It will not bode well for the presidential office if the dearth of eligible candidates results in uncontested elections in future.

The commission's suggestion of returning to the pre-1991 system of having an appointed president is a very relevant one, especially in the light of the need for minority representation.

Andrew Seow Chwee Guan