Elected Presidency review: 4 things about the Constitutional Commission and its work

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon is heading the Constitutional Commission tasked with reviewing the Elected Presidency.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon is heading the Constitutional Commission tasked with reviewing the Elected Presidency.ST FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE - The Constitutional Commission formed to review Singapore's elected presidency will hear the views of 19 groups and individuals who had contributed written submissions on the matter.

Starting from Monday (April 18), they will speak at four public hearings to be held at the Supreme Court auditorium. The other three hearings are scheduled for April 22, 26 and May 6, between 9.30am and 5pm.

Here's a look at who sits on the commission and what the review is about:

1. Who sits on the Constitutional Commission?

Nine prominent Singaporeans have been named to the committee to study the Elected Presidency and recommend how it can be updated.

The commission was appointed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in February this year.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon is leading the group of eight men and one woman.

Also on the panel are Public Service Commission chairman Eddie Teo, Supreme Court judge Tay Yong Kwang, former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi and Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee.

The rest are business leaders Chua Thian Poh of Ho Bee Land, Philip Ng of Far East Organization, Peter Seah of DBS Bank, and Wong Ngit Liong of Venture Corp.

Read more: Nine-member panel to review Elected Presidency

2. When was the last time such a committee was convened?

It is only the second time in independent Singapore's history that a Constitutional Commission led by the Chief Justice has been convened.

The first Constitutional Commission was called in December 1965 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Chaired by then Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin, the committee's work was centred on coming up with ways to safeguard the rights of racial, linguistic and religious minorities in the Constitution.

The panel, which comprised 11 eminent legal persons from various racial groups, completed its work within eight months and submitted a 31-page report.

Read more: Elected Presidency review: Constitutional Commission's task

3. Which will the current review look into?

The Constitutional Commission will study three areas and recommend how it can be updated:

- The criteria that qualify a person to be a candidate in the presidential election.

This must consider the President's custodial role over the reserves and public service - a role that requires "individuals of character and standing" with experience and ability to do the job "with dignity and distinction".

Read more: Raising the bar for Elected Presidency candidates

- Provisions to make sure people from Singapore's minority races stand a chance to be elected President.

Read more: Ensuring minorities have a turn

- The role and composition of the Council of Presidential Advisers in governing how the President exercises his powers.

Read more: How to give more weight to Council of Presidential Advisers

4. When will the review be completed?

The commission expects to submit its recommendations by the third quarter of this year.