Mr M Ravi

Arguably, no real need to have a President at all

By M Ravi

I welcome the Government’s initiative in appointing a Constitutional Commission to study and make recommendations on aspects of the Elected Presidency.

Arguably we are in a situation now where there is no real need to have a President at all. So many of the really important decisions are made by a cabinet and a highly disciplined Civil Service. The office of President is essentially glamorous. This was most vividly illustrated in the pardon situation where Presidential clemency of death penalty cases has turned out to be a cabinet prerogative – the President has to act on the advice of the Cabinet when it comes to clemency cases.

If the office of President is to have a real as opposed to a titular significance, there will need to be a re-think of the balance of power between the various players especially in relation to custodial powers.

The reference to ensuring that candidates from minority races have fair and adequate opportunity to be elected to Presidential office seems a bit of a distraction from the powers issue. Has anyone suggested any particular race that feels excluded?

It is to be hoped the Commission will not fall into the trap which so often ensnares commissions – where they interpret their terms of reference so narrowly that no good comes out of it.

The framework governing the exercise of the President’s custodial powers is wide enough to address the real issues, if the will to do so is there.