Consider having more than one head of state

The plan to introduce changes to the elected presidency has been widely welcomed by Singaporeans who hope to see a minority president in office ("Nine-member panel to review Elected Presidency"; Feb 11).

However, it is still unclear how this can be achieved without compromising the integrity of the electoral process.

One solution that was mooted by observers, and which deserves more serious consideration, is to elect more than one president.

In this pluralist system, one candidate can be voted in from each of the major racial groups in the country, to form a collective head of state.

This system offers two key advantages.

First, a collective head of state, made up of exemplary members of each race, can assume equal responsibility to lead and represent Singapore.

In sharing the presidential office, their displays of unity will not only inspire Singaporeans to uphold our cohesive society, but also showcase our multiculturalism to the rest of the world.

Second, having more than one president enables minority candidates to assume the presidency, while ensuring a free and fair electoral process, as only the most qualified candidates will still be elected.

This is in contrast to a quota system, which would unfairly put candidates from other racial groups out of the contest.

Those sceptical of such an arrangement say that a power struggle may potentially erupt among the members, which can have far-reaching pernicious effects, and even divide the people and affect social cohesion.

However, this can be prevented by the Council of Presidential Advisers, which can provide oversight over the equal sharing of power.

Moreover, presidential candidates would be individuals of high character, who are likely to affirm their unity, as they recognise the profound impact it will have on the country.

Therefore, I hope that the proposal for a collective head of state will receive greater attention and support from the Constitutional Committee and the public.

Akaash Ganesh