Forging a united S'pore through the elected presidency

During his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared that there will be changes to the elected presidency, based on recommendations by the Constitutional Commission ("Changes to elected presidency soon"; Monday).

In particular, the recommendations will ensure that the system produces an elected president from a minority ethnic group every few elections.

Mr Lee took great pains to share the principles of why we should make the changes, and this was further supported by findings of a recent survey.

I believe most Singaporeans, including myself, welcome the changes as these will bring Singaporeans closer.

In these precarious times, when the threat of terror aims to destroy the precious social fabric of our nation, the changes to ensure candidates of minority races are elected as president from time to time show foresight by our leaders in the interest of racial harmony in Singapore.

This topic is highly sensitive, and most of us are uncomfortable with having such conversations with fellow Singaporeans of other races.

Putting the concerns of minorities out in the public domain in Parliament may help prime deeper and open discussions on race relations in Singapore, as we count our blessings for the delicate racial harmony we share today, and continually adjust our system with a "divine discontent" to forge a united Singapore.

We now know that the details of the Bill to change the Constitution will be debated in Parliament.

I urge our parliamentarians to be bold and to speak openly and responsibly on this topic, so that citizens of all races may understand and empathise with one another's needs, worries and anxieties.

Dan Boon Jiahao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'Forging a united S'pore through the elected presidency'. Print Edition | Subscribe