Elected presidency

Inclusiveness, meritocracy working hand in hand

The next Singapore presidential election will be reserved for Malay candidates.

Professor Tommy Koh wrote that there are two competing principles at play in the election - inclusiveness and meritocracy ("2017: Three great expectations"; Jan 3).

However, both principles should be seen as working hand in hand, instead of the principle of inclusiveness prevailing over the principle of meritocracy, because Singapore's next president would still be voted into office on merit.

All candidates would still have to meet the stringent eligibility criteria for their names to appear on the ballot sheet.

For the duration of the campaign, they would have to work hard to earn support, and on polling day, voters will decide on the best candidate.

Unlike any other position in the private/business and public sector, the elected president is uniquely a symbol and personification of our multiracial state.

The elected presidency is an office for all races, and it is necessary for all races to be represented in the office from time to time.

Since we have not had a Malay president since the late Yusof Ishak 47 years ago, the focus on inclusiveness in the upcoming presidential election is necessary.

Prof Koh is right that the presidential election this year reflects inclusiveness and meritocracy.

However, they are not competing but complementary , and are meant to strengthen our elected presidency system.

Teo Jun Jie

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Inclusiveness, meritocracy working hand in hand'. Print Edition | Subscribe