Parliament: Changes to elected presidency

Debate on changes to elected presidency: Council part of framework to facilitate wise decisions

As an independent expert body, the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) provides a stabilising effect so that the president's custodial function does not depend solely on the judgment of a single person acting alone, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told Parliament.

It also plays a role in resolving disagreements between the president and the Government, and is an important part of the framework of the president's custodial powers, he added yesterday.

"Overall, we want the framework to facilitate wise and prompt decisions, with suitable mechanisms to resolve impasses," he said.

As part of the constitutional amendments, the president will need to consult the CPA before exercising most of his discretionary powers, including over all fiscal matters and appointments. Currently, some of these matters are excluded from this requirement.

The proposed amendments also set time limits of 30 days to six weeks for the president to veto certain government decisions. These can be shortened if the prime minister certifies that the matter is urgent, or lengthened if both the president and Cabinet so agree.

This is to avoid ambiguity about whether the Government can proceed if the president remains silent on a matter, said Mr Teo.

The framework for the president and council to state their reasons for vetoes or recommendations will also be refined.

With the enlarged role that the CPA will play, two more members will be added to the council to strengthen it, said Mr Teo. One will be appointed by the president and one will be appointed on the advice of the prime minister, bringing the total number of members to eight.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Council part of framework to facilitate wise decisions'. Print Edition | Subscribe