The Government has presented a White Paper in response to the Constitutional Commission’s Report on the Elected Presidency on Thursday (15 September).
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.
Netizens expressed their concern towards the issue. Some proposed that Singapore might just as well turn revert back into appointed President rather than continue with the Election.
Here are what they said :
- Eugene Foo wrote, "Might as well no election let the PAP decide who get the hot seat, the requirements are too ridiculous,at least 50 million, people like Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say not even qualify, where to find such power candidates except PAP CHOSEN ONE!"
- Edrei Valath wrote, "I love how the government thinks that the populous is so dumb that everything, from CPF to presidential elections, needs to be condensed down to cute, little info graphs.
Either that or they believe that the fewer info they give, the less people will question them. But again, that relies on their poor opinion of the populous."
- Gerald Tan wrote, "This is getting ridiculous. And the saddest/scariest thing is that the PAP, holding almost all the seats in Parliament can just amend the constitution to their heart's content, no matter how much we disagree with it on the ground."
- Wendy Celine Ong wrote, "Let's face it. Most of the questions are just distractions. The main issue is no 2. Should a president be a former/current senior executive of a company with shareholder equity of at least 500 million? Obviously, this is designed so that some people like Dr Tan Cheng Bock or Tan Jee Say cannot take part in the next presidential election."
- Nick Pedro wrote, "As an Indian, this is an overkill. It goes to tell that minorities need the Chinese support however since the time of British Indian Army, we were alone unchallenged and survived without help or assistance. We were road builders, port workers (air & sea), policemen, shop owners, tend to agricultural animals, aside being warriors. We were marginalized even today but we survived. We are the hardiest of all races because we survived in a region of other majorities. Today we have reached the highest level and appears as threats to the government, co-workers, and neighbors. We were called names but we are strong when we unite, fortunately, the need has not arrived. We can be the greatest friend but deadliest enemies. Our armed forces is based on the grit and fitness of Indian officers though we can go far, except for M S Gill. So in a nut case, we don't need sympathetic pathetic support."
- Guo Xiongwei wrote, "Geez, the amount of work they put in to block TCB from contesting is IMPRESSIVE! If NEW PAP bothers as much on those lift maintenance, many residents would not be injured/DEAD from using their lifts. Does it take MONTHS to investigate why the lift was badly maintained by Pasir Ris-Punggol TC where the ah-pek DIED? So long to cover-up/whitewash the tragedy meh?
As NEW PAP Chairman KBW put it, 'in the good old days.'"
- Henry Ace wrote, "By simply appoint them as chairman or CEO at any of the GLCs prior to elections, Pappy can easily make their candidates qualify. I would rather void my votes in future than to vote in a puppet."
- Jim Chua wrote, "this is,hilarious! the pledge already said, 'regardless of races, etc,' is not as Long as anyone, any race, who is capable enough to fit the bill?, the decision is still from the board of government members, if the primary choice is for the Indian race but a Malay and a Chinese race are the better choices, the member will still choose the best, not the race. Right?"
- Sangha Vandana wrote, " A redundant wayang news, all of us know it will surely accept even without the referendum, what else to expect!What can we do? The government is amending the constitution to exclude referendum for future insertion and amendments."
- Alfred Huang wrote, "How many companies out there have $500m shareholders' equity? Of which, how many of their Most Senior Executives will want to run for Presidency? End up no one run, will be their own Kaki-Lang again."
Dr Tan Cheng Bock who only lost to the current president by 0.35% of votes, had earlier announced his intention to contest in the upcoming Presidential Election in 2017. However, with the new proposed amendments in place. Dr Tan will be disqualified as a potential candidate in the next election.