Secretary General of Workers’ Party, Low Thia Khiang reiterated the stance of the Workers’ Party (WP) that it does not see the need for an elected president and highlights the party’s worry that an elected government along with an elected president will create a constitutional crisis in the future.
Mr Low was asked to comment on the report by the Constitutional Commission by the media on Thursday evening during his weekly Meet-the-People Session at Aljunied GRC.
The report which was released by the Constitutional Commission on Wednesday proposed several recommendations to the Elected Presidency, notably measures to ensure minorities are elected as president and to increase the criteria for candidates from private sectors to contest in the Presidential Election.
Mr Low commented that he had not seen the full report and therefore could not comment on the recommendations, however, he reiterated that WP’s stance on the Elected President.
He said that the Elected Presidency was created with the assumption that the president can prevent a rogue government from squandering away the reserves. Noting that it is always assumed that a future opposition government will squander away the reserve, but on the contrary, “what is likely to happen is that you have a PAP government with an elected president which is from the establishment, both squander away the national reserves.”
“That to me is the real risk” said Mr Low
Mr Low pointed out that the increase of criteria for the presidential candidates is exactly the problem for the presumption of check and balances.
He said, “The question about increasing the criteria, making it more streingent, it is exactly the problem because end of the day, who is going to be qualified as elected president, to stand as a candidate for the elected president? Likely from the government right? So who are they checking? Who is checking who?
Mr Low recalled from his conversation with the first elected President of Singapore, Mr Ong Teng cheong , who told him that the office of the elected President office has no staff to check on anything and depends on the government to provide information. He asked, “so how are we checking?”
He pointed out that there is still some provision of the elected president which have yet to be entrenched.
Mr Low noted that he is very concerned as a citizen of Singapore and as someone who understand the political system, whether the Elected Presidency is going to serve a purpose like what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said to act as a stabiliser or a spanner which will jam up the future government to work for Singapore.
If the recommendations from the Constitutional Commission were to be adopted by the government, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the popular candidate in PE2011 who lost a mere 0.35% of votes to the current President, will not qualify to stand in the upcoming election. Dr Tan had earlier announced his intention to stand in the upcoming Presidential Election in March this year during a press conference.