Parliament passes changes to elected presidency

A session of the Singapore Parliament held on Jan 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Parliament yesterday passed changes to the Constitution to raise the bar for presidential candidates and ensure all races are represented from time to time in the office.

It means Singapore's next president is likely to be Malay, as next year's election will be reserved for Malay candidates. The amendments also raise the maximum number of Non-Constituency MPs from nine to 12, and give them the same voting rights as elected MPs.

All 77 People's Action Party MPs present voted in favour of the changes, while all six elected Workers' Party MPs opposed them.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed at the end of three full days of debate, during which 38 MPs spoke on the changes mooted.

Rounding up the debate, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said while the proposals were not perfect, they addressed present realities while encouraging Singapore towards multiracial representation in the presidency. WP's call for an appointed president and elected senate was not workable, he added.

"We are trying to improve our institutions and strengthen them for the Singapore of the future," he said. "It is part of the overall effort to build stabilisers in the system."

Charissa Yong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline Parliament passes changes to elected presidency. Subscribe