Eligible Malay candidates should step forward

Parliament has passed the proposed changes to the elected presidency, paving the way for the next presidential election, which will take place next year, to be reserved for Malay candidates ("Parliament passes changes to presidency"; yesterday).

I support the move in the true spirit of a multiracial society.

But the practical challenges are just ahead.

With the bar significantly raised for candidates to qualify for the presidential election, the potential pool of candidates from the minority communities will be significantly smaller.

Furthermore, they are likely to come from the establishment.

The likelihood of a walkover without contest during next year's election is a real possibility. It is not in our reserved culture to compete openly in an election against our former comrades.

However, I appeal to eligible candidates from the Malay community to step forward to contest the election, because it is critical to give Singaporeans the chance to exercise their right to vote for their president, especially one from a minority community.

This electoral process of getting a mandate from the people is critical to the success of the revised elected presidency.

Lastly, we should not stop here as a nation. We have not had a prime minister of the minority races since independence in 1965.

I hope to see one in the next decade or so.

Edmund Lam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Eligible Malay candidates should step forward'. Print Edition | Subscribe