Government accepts in principle main recommendations on changes to elected presidency: PM Lee

PM Lee Hsien Loong said that the Government accepts in principle the Constitutional Commission's main recommendations for the elected presidency. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The Government accepts in principle the Constitutional Commission's main recommendations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Noting that the Commission has expressed views on some matters beyond its terms of reference, he said on Wednesday (Sept 7) in a letter to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who led the Commission, that the Government will study these views seriously.

Mr Lee said that while the system has served Singapore well for 25 years, it should be updated so that the president can carry out both his role of custodian for Singapore's reserves and his symbolic function as the head of state.

The report reflects the "collective wisdom" of the Commission and has benefited from the views of Singaporeans who gave their opinions on the matter, he said.

The Commission was tasked with reviewing three aspects of the elected presidency in January. These include the qualifying process for candidates, ensuring minorities have a chance to be elected president, and reviewing the framework of how the president exercises his custodial powers.

One alternative suggestion by the Commission was that the Government consider reverting to a President elected by Parliament.

"While I appreciate the Commission's reasons for this suggestion, as the Government has pointed out even when the scheme was first conceived, it would be difficult for a President to exercise custodial powers over the reserves and public service appointments, and veto proposals by the Government, without an electoral mandate," said PM Lee.

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