There are enough qualified Singaporeans of all races to vie for the post of elected president, even with the qualifying criteria looking set to become more stringent, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
"There are qualified Malays, there are qualified Singaporeans of all races," he told Singapore reporters in an interview in Laos after the Asean summits. Mr Lee was asked if there were enough qualified Malay candidates for the elected presidency (EP), after the Government accepted in principle on Wednesday the main recommendations of a Constitutional Commissionto review aspects of the institution.
Its key proposals included a requirement that a private-sector candidate should have led a company with $500 million in shareholders' equity, a change from the current $100 million in paid-up capital. Mr Lee said the Government wants the criteria strengthened to ensure the elected president is well qualified.
And the commission proposed an election be reserved for one of the three racial groups (Chinese, Malay, or Indian and Others) if no one of that race has held the post for five terms. "We minimise the risk that we will not have minorities become president from time to time. That is very important, I've explained this multiple times," said Mr Lee, adding: "They've made a good proposal."
The Government will respond in a White Paper next Thursday.