Joint statement calling for an open Presidential election in September

President Ong Teng Cheong (foreground right) hosted a lunch at the Istana for former President Wee Kim Wee (left) and Mr S R Nathan, after Mr Nathan had been elected but before he took office, in August 1999. PHOTO: MICA COLLECTION, COURTESY OF NAS

With Mr Ong Teng Cheong being Singapore’s first elected President, the upcoming Presidential election in September should be considered an open election. That is National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Secretary General, Mr Lim Tean’s message in a joint statement he wrote on his Facebook page.

More than 500 people have signed Mr Lim’s joint statement, initially signed by Lim Tean, Tan Kin Lian, Goh Meng Seng and Syafarin Sarif, that will be submitted to the Singapore government.

“The next Presidential election in September this year should be an open election as there have been only 4 elected Presidents since the Elected Presidency scheme came into effect, with Mr Ong Teng Cheong being our first elected President. We do not know of any ordinary Singaporean who has taken an opposing view,” Mr Lim wrote.

In November last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the next Presidential Election due in 2017 will be reserved for Malay candidates, based on the hiatus-triggered model. Speaking on the Elected Presidency (EP) scheme, PM Lee said, “That means if a qualified Malay candidate steps up to run, Singapore will have a Malay president again. This would be our first after more than 46 years, since our first president Encik Yusof Ishak.”

While it was previously unclear which past president the Government would begin counting the period of five continuous terms from, based on the advice of Attorney General Chambers (AGC), PM Lee’s stated that the Government will start counting the five continuous terms from the term of President Wee Kim Wee.

Subsequently, when asked in Parliament by MPs of Workers’ Party, the government had declined to reveal the details of AGC’s advice.

Earlier in May, Dr Tan Cheng Bock announced that the High Court had accepted his application to seek the Court’s determination on whether the piece of legislation – that counts President Wee Kim Wee as the first Elected Presidency term for the purposes of calling the upcoming election a reserved election – is consistent with Singapore’s constitution.

In Queen’s Counsel Lord David Pannick’s opinion (who is the constitutional lawyer Dr Tan Cheng Bock had sought legal answers from), the advice of the Attorney-General of counting Wee Kim Wee as the first elected President was wrong. ” We must now await the determination of this issue by the Supreme Court,” Mr Lim said.

In the joint statement consolidated on 11 May 2017, Mr Lim gathered like-minded Singaporeans of the opinion that the next Presidential Election should indeed be an open election, to add their names onto his joint statement.

In his Facebook post, Mr Lim said that “there was never a call by any Singaporean of any ethnic group for our next President to be a Malay”. He further said that the scheme for the election was “not cobbled together hurriedly as has been suggested, thereby necessitating substantial changes at this time”.

Mr Lim explained the chain of events, spanning seven years from April 1984, when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew first brought up the scheme during his walkabout at his Tanjong Pagar Constituency to January 1991 when the Bill was finally passed into law.

The NSP leader went on to say that in the year following the last Presidential election of 2011, no People’s Action Party (PAP) member ever expressed concern that too many years had passed without the nation having a Malay President. This was up until the issue surfaced, Mr Lim said, in the President’s speech in January 2016.

“If this issue is of such grave national importance as the PAP and the Prime Minister have made it out to be, why was this issue not put before the Singapore people in the last General Elections held in September 2015? And why has this issue not been put before the Singapore people in a referendum?” Mr Lim asked.

In a video posted by Mr Lim the next day, he sought the support of viewers to insert their name in the joint statement to “protect our Constitution”.

In his four minutes video, the Secretary General said that Singaporeans have realised that the “economic glitter” the People’s Action Party (PAP) have often spoken about, is not something that has appeared to be true, especially since the government “is able to increase prices and the cost of living without justification”.

Mr Lim took references from the elderly in Singapore, still having to work, clean plates, and wash toilets, and not being able to retire gracefully as they are either unable to access their CPF and/or feeling that the monthly payments from the CPF is “not sufficient for subsistence living”.

Mr Lim also spoke about Singaporeans seeing their jobs taken away from foreigners, “and the government allowing it”.

Readers who are keen to also sign Mr Lim’s petition can do so here.


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