Office of the Elected President should be abolished: WP

In response to the review of the Elected Presidency (EP) system, the Workers’ Party (WP) called in a submission to the Constitutional Commission Secretariat for the abolishment of the office of the EP. In the submission on 21 March, the WP stated that this has been their stance on this matter since the 1980s.

The WP raised numerous issues in their argument for the office of the EP’s abolishment.

In their submission, the WP states that the existence of the EP undermines parliamentary democracy, and the the powers granted to the EP may hamper the success and effectiveness of the government.

Additionally, there are concerns that the EP may affect a non-PAP government in its first term. The WP stated that this is due to the EP typically being selected from a group of elite individuals, many of whom are senior officials appointed under the PAP government. A future non-PAP government requiring the replacement of key appointment holders of statutory boards or government companies could be blocked by the EP under Article 22 of the Constitution, affecting the progress of any new non-PAP administration.

They also cited the significant veto powers given to the EP, which could give rise to the possibility of the EP becoming an “unnecessary alternative power centre”. In such a situation, the Prime Minister (PM) may have to resort to obtaining the cooperation of the EP in all matters, rendering the PM a “lame duck”.

While the WP acknowledges the need to safeguard the past reserves previously accumulated, they have stated in their submission that such is not the duty of the EP when parliament is fully equipped to do so. “WP is open to the idea of enacting additional Parliamentary mechanisms to safeguard the reserves,” the submission states.

The WP also voiced concerns over the suggestion to expand the powers of the Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA). With the CPA comprising of eight appointed members without any mandate from Singaporeans, the WP sees that such a move may worsen the political gridlock between the EP and the CPA.

The submission concluded with the statement that “WP is therefore of the view that the office of the EP should not be refined, and should be abolished.”

To view the WP’s submission to the Constitutional Commission Secretariat in full, click here.