Let Singaporeans vote on changes to elected presidency

At the recently concluded Constitutional Commission hearings on proposed changes to the elected presidency, there were suggestions to revert the office to one that is appointed by Parliament ("'Restore former system of Parliament appointing president'"; last Saturday).

We should tread very carefully when it comes to this idea, as the aim of having an elected president is to ensure that this person would have the mandate to safeguard our substantial financial reserves and maintain the integrity of the civil service.

As for the need to have a minority candidate, two candidates should stand, one for the post of president and the other as a running mate for vice-president ("Dhanabalan proposes two-man presidential team"; last Saturday).

If the presidential candidate is Chinese, then the running mate should be either a Malay, Indian or Eurasian, and vice versa.

The vice-president's role is also vital, as he should also be appointed as the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.

If, for any reason, the president is unable to carry out his duties, the vice-president should be able to take on the duties smoothly, without needing to go through another cumbersome election process.

The commission's report is expected to be submitted by the third quarter of this year.

After further debate in Parliament, the proposals should be put to a vote through a referendum. Singaporeans should be given the right to vote, as the elected presidency is so vital to the nation's future.

The president, as the apolitical head of state, must be a strong unifying figure of all Singaporeans, with a heart and love for Singapore.

S. Nallakaruppan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Let Singaporeans vote on changes to elected presidency'. Print Edition | Subscribe