Parliament: MP Denise Phua calls to scrap elected presidency

Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) called for the scrapping of the elected presidency and a return to a ceremonial role for the head of state. -- ST FILE: T KUMAR
Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) called for the scrapping of the elected presidency and a return to a ceremonial role for the head of state. -- ST FILE: T KUMAR

SINGAPORE - Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) called for the scrapping of the elected presidency and a return to a ceremonial role for the head of state.

"If the conditions under which (the elected presidency, Non-Constituency MP and the Nominated MP schemes) have changed," she said in Parliament on Tuesday, "let us have the courage to slay these sacred cows before they become obese and unhealthy."

She expressed her concerns over the powers given to the President, such as control over the Government's financial reserves and key public office appointments.

These powers were awarded following a constitutional amendment in 1991. Until then, the President was a ceremonial head of state.

"He holds the executive right to block attempts by the Government of the day including specified statutory boards to draw down reserves that it did not accumulate."

Ms Phua said she shares Workers' Party leader Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC)'s reservations about the power given to the elected President.

"If the government of the day is elected by popular vote, the electorate has to live with its elected candidates and remove them at the next General Elections should there be better choices," she said.

Additionally, she criticised the scheme, having "admitted candidates who were non-executive chairmen of companies or portfolio managers with no strong solid executive experience, expecting them to exercise the very critical executive functions expected of the Elected President".

She called for a review on the elected presidency. "I long for the day of senior statesman who can represent our country as a head of state in the like of ex-Presidents Yusof Bin Ishak and Dr Benjamin Sheares; statesmen who need not be slugged through yet another political campaigning process that divides the country instead of healing and uniting the people of Singapore," she said.