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Reserved election: Conceived with good intention but...

The presidential election reserved for Malay candidates might have been conceived with the good intention of promoting multiculturalism, but it is unnecessary (A very Singaporean dilemma in picking a president, and Will reserved election promote multiracialism?; both published on Sept 3).

The Malay DNA is more firmly ingrained in our national psyche than most people realise. Even though young people may not be aware that Malay was the lingua franca at the time of Singapore's independence, we all sing our National Anthem with passion and conviction. The same sense of patriotism and unity would not be aroused were the lyrics translated into English or Mandarin.

All the elected presidents so far have been political leaders of the highest calibre, with track records of long, dedicated and outstanding public service to the nation. They have set standards which all future elected presidents will have to uphold. It is a tall order, and taller still if candidates are limited to a small pool from a particular race. We could be left with no choice but to lower our expectations.

If the United States, which is much more racially divided than Singapore, could elect a black president, we should be more optimistic and confident that our Malay compatriots can be elected president on their own merit.

Robert Tang Hin Ching

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'Reserved election: Conceived with good intention but...'. Print Edition | Subscribe