Race no longer the first thing voters consider

We need to carefully consider the proposal to have minority-only presidential contests ("'Minority-only contest would send wrong signal'"; last Wednesday).

Such a move could have unintended consequences in future, such as a demand to extend the concept to leadership positions of organisations which are elected by popular vote.

It is also a sad proposal, for it confirms that some people still believe there is racial prejudice among voters.

But I think we are progressing towards race-blindness in voting at elections, although no one is sure how much race still matters.

I would describe the maturity of our electorate thus:

Let us assume A is a minority candidate and B a Chinese, and both have comparable experience and qualifications. In this case, B will likely win based on his race.

But if A is clearly more qualified than B, then I have no doubt that A will win.

This has been made possible with an increasingly educated electorate and a stronger national identity.

The pool of Singaporeans who qualify to be president is probably very small.

So, naturally, qualified people from the minority pool will be even fewer, coupled with the fact that not all qualified people will be willing to step forward.

So, the issue is more of whether respected and highly qualified potential minority candidates are willing to step forward to serve as president.

Edmund Lam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Race no longer the first thing voters consider'. Print Edition | Subscribe