Walking tightrope between freedom and rights

Editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez has highlighted the predicaments that a reserved election surfaces, despite its role in facilitating a multiracial presidency and strengthening our commitment towards multiracialism amid more volatile conditions around the world (A very Singaporean dilemma in picking a president; Sept 3).

Part of the dilemma is how a reserved election affects the freedom and rights of voters.

We need to remember that freedom is relative, not absolute; that freedom is the outcome of the gears in society that uphold our rights, as philosopher John Locke suggested when he said: "Where there is no law, there is no freedom."

We wish to uphold our dual rights to have a presidency that is symbolic of our country's founding principle of multiracialism and to have a presidency that is based on qualifying criteria determined to ensure competence to shoulder the responsibility as the custodian of our country's reserves.

However, in doing so with a reserved election, our freedom to exercise our vote is potentially compromised.

This is because statistics tell us that in setting a higher threshold within a small population, the probability of candidates falling above the threshold is lowered.

It is a paradox indeed that in asking for more, we receive less.

Lavisha S Punjabi (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Walking tightrope between freedom and rights'. Print Edition | Subscribe