The Government has presented a White Paper* in response to the Constitutional Commission’s Report on the Elected Presidency.
The Constitutional Commission headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon was tasked by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to review three aspects of the Elected Presidency; the introduction of safeguards to ensure a president from a minority race, reviewing the qualifying criteria for presidential candidates and addressing the role of a council that advises the president on key decisions.
The White Paper stated that it declined the recommendation that the president should be chosen by the Parliament and emphasized that the president has to be appointed by the people to ensure he/she has the moral authority and mandate to veto the Government.
However, it accepted the key recommendation which said that the presidential candidates from the private sector must be at least CEOs of companies with $500 million or more of shareholders' equality.
The recommendation which said that the Presidential Election would be reserved for a racial group if it is not represented for five terms is also accepted.
The recommendation which said that a more finely-calibrated approach for Parliament to override the President's veto, taking into consideration the extent to which the CPA supports the veto was also declined.
However, the Government also agreed that members of Council of President Advisors (CPA) will be added from six to eight and that the president must consult CPA for all monetary issues related to reserves and all key public service appointments.
This is contradictory on the government's stance of not wanting to override the President's veto.
Given that the government insists that the president must consult CPA for all monetary issues related to reserves and all key public service appointments, and two-third of the CPA will be appointed by Prime Minister and Head of Civil Service, so how can the President have free will to do any thing to begin with?
And so, why is there a need for a CEO of at least $500 million or more of shareholders' equality to qualify as a candidate when all the Elected President needs to do or can only do is to ask for permission from the CPA to say yes or no?
The full version of White Paper can be read here.
The government said that it will table a Bill containing the necessary Constitutional amendments as proposed in the White Paper at a future sitting of Parliament. The changes to the Elected Presidency scheme will be debated in Parliament during the Second Reading of the Bill.
*A White Paper is a formal policy document issued by the Government to explain or discuss certain matters.