Constitutional Commission on elected presidency: Maruah's submission

Maruah president Braema Mathi (left) and member Ngiam Shih Tung.
Maruah president Braema Mathi (left) and member Ngiam Shih Tung. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIMG

SINGAPORE - The elected president's power to block key public service appointments is more important and should get greater emphasis than the custodial role over the reserves, human rights group Maruah said.

This is because the integrity and incorruptibility of the public service is an invaluable asset, while the second key is a "red herring" as Maruah feels it is rare for the president to withhold permission to use the reserves.

At the third public hearing on Tuesday (April 26), Maruah member Ngiam Shih Tung, 49, argued that it is undemocratic for the president to block Supply Bills that are passed by Parliament, which reflect the will of the people.


But Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon questioned this notion and pointed out that the president is also elected and has a mandate to be a check and balance.

Mr Ngiam said that if the president came from a wide number of candidates, it would not be undemocratic. But he felt that the review of the eligibility criteria would shrink the pool of candidates and therefore limit the choices of Singaporeans.

This led CJ Menon to note that the Constitutional Commission was supposed to provide recommendations to ensure the relevance of the eligibility criteria. It is not the objective to narrow the pool, he stressed.