Hardly anyone online seems to agree with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's view that there is a need to ensure a minority President is to be elected in the upcoming or future Presidential Election.
PM Lee stated in a TV interview broadcast by MediaCorp on Sunday (4 September) night that the qualifying criteria for the candidates in the Presidential election needs to be updated to ensure a private sector candidate for the role is qualified and capable to do the job.
He was responding to the question of how proposals by a Constitutional Commission to ensure minorities can be elected as the President would work.
Speaking in response to criticism that the move to ensure a minority president is "tokenism", "I don’t think it’s tokenism. I think it’s a very necessary symbolism of what we are as a multiracial society, what Singapore means, stands for and what we aspire to be" said PM Lee.
The proposal by the Constitutional Commission is set to be published this week
Having watched the interview, some commenters have speculated that the new president that have already been "chosen" by the government and he or she would be a Malay candidate.
Many others commented online that race is really not an issue for them. Most pointed out that as long as the president is capable of handling the job, the race does not matter to them.
Here are some of the comments:
- Li Yan McCurdy wrote, "PM decides that now is the time to encourage people to not vote for a Chinese president, after Dr Tan Cheng Bock (whom the PAP do not want as president) announces that he will be running. Coincidence hor? Also, PM is so keenly emphasizing racial diversity for the presidency, yet has no problem with how the SIX potential PMs are all Chinese men. A bit double-standard right!"
- Max Tan wrote, "Do not change the subject. The Next President cannot be related to Elected political party for Government. Conflict of interest even that candidate is no longer in the party or quit job that benefits from that party.
Fact. Because you guys place our President as Safe Key Holders."
- Jeff Leong wrote, "The next question becomes, how do we define minority? Apart from the traditional 4 races, how will we further define our other minorities whom called our island home as citizens?"
- Loh Wai Poon wrote, "Doing engineering to predetermine the candidate race is not democracy! Democracy rests on the principle of one man one vote n the best candidate wins! The best candidate can be from any race. It is his/her dedication, capability to lead n speak to the people that should win EP election. We have already made a wrong move by placing criteria to EP candidates that effectively exclude 90+% of the people from eligible to be candidates. Now the bar is going to be higher n race is added into it. This is national affair not an engineering project like MRT. How can it be fair to Singaporean when we declare regardless of race, language or religion... in our pledge but do the opposite in EP election?"
- Valiant King wrote, "Truthfully it's not about any race to be a President or PM the commoners are seeking for. We are looking at the people whom has better ability to lead us to Good Future. Think thrice before voting!!!"
- Lee Kee Seng wrote, "Ya la, they will say next one cannot be same race as last one. TCB will then be disqualified by race. Isn't this also being racist? What about your talks of meritocracy? What about a minority person as PM based on meritocracy? Why are you tearing up so much of what it means to be Singapore? Why is there a need to destabilize so much?"
- Marcus Goh wrote "Most of the policies and constitutional changes comes after PAP felt threaten, not our Country.... If you look back in our 51 years of history, you will know what I mean... No point listing all them out here..."
- Jack Chan wrote, "The candidate already selected. Why waste time fighting on keyboards ? Since when they listen to what you have to say ? Just sit back to enjoy the stupid things happening around you, that's all you can do. Every GE result will determine its future course. It is that simple."
- Frank Aung wrote, "Funny...seems...he doesn't want someone from his non-Chinese gang to go in..and we have had an Indian guy before.so he is setting up a trusty Malay dude who has been a crony to be a president? ..or another Indian Jack?"
- Lim Jet Suan wrote, "Useless appointment wasting our money and time. Tell me what's the point of having EP?"
- Jimmy Beany wrote, "Why try to fix something when it isn't broken. Opening affirmative action based on racial lines, will open the door to racial politics to an indefinite number of public policies in the future."
- Nope wrote, "Why? Didn't we say race isn't important, meritocracy is? Look at Murali, he was voted despite being Indian. We just want a President that isn't a puppet, one that checks on the govt like Mr Ong Teng Cheong. And why talk about President? Why not PM? Why so silent? Why are the next top 6 leaders are Chinese? 2 of them just entered politics and are the next leaders? Meritocracy?"
- Rudy RR wrote, "Meh, who cares about a ceremonial role. And besides, the EP role has been rotated between Malay, Eurasian, Indian and Chinese so far. What's the use for this pointless provision? It is Tokenism. He should be putting that provision for the PM role. But that might just be a tad uncomfortable, right?"
- Ron Hon wrote, "Dear sir, I am very concern about the future of Singapore. Once again, the government had demonstrated its insecurity and incapability by changing the constitution for PE. The current 4th gen of leaders are also not ready. The future PM is also in serious doubt and the right person are seen to force not to take up the role. Now I totally lost confident and could not even motivate my children that this nation is worth for them in the future.
From a very concern father and citizen who want the betterment of this nation."
- Raymone Soh wrote, "A president should be based on merit , charisma , people president Abd not one with just a puppet with rubber stamp. What has our country become ? Sad. We are Not just a rojak cities but Shanghai cities , Mumbai cities , Pinoy cities ... Gradually we will lose our identity . We really want a people president that not just race but capability that lead the people"
After scouring online for comments in support of the changes, it would seem that only the silent majority agrees with PM Lee on his proposed changes to the criteria of the elected presidency.