Elected presidency in Singapore: A reflection on late Ong Teng Cheong’s legacy and questions on Tharman’s independence

As Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam prepares for his presidential bid, questions arise about his potential effectiveness and independence as a check on the PAP-led government.

Lessons from the tenure of the late ‘People’s President’, Ong Teng Cheong, indicate a presidency filled with challenges. Singaporeans must contemplate whether Tharman can separate his political past from PAP or if his tenure will mirror previous presidencies.

This dilemma, paired with Tharman’s roles in reserve management, adds a layer of complexity to the upcoming election.

Ong Teng Cheong asked and got stonewalled, Pritam Singh asked and got an earful

by Augustine Low There are no two ways about it. The secret stays secret. Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh tried again in Parliament yesterday, asking to be enlightened about the size of Singapore’s reserves. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat considered the question superfluous, telling the story told before of why it … Read more

Former PM Goh Chok Tong contradicts the Govt on how to count reserved elections

Following Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s press conference last weekend, there has been heightened public discourse on the Government’s curious interpretation of the following words: “the most recent 5 consecutive terms of the Elected Presidency.” These words are from the latest amendments to our ever-amenable Constitution. They can be found in Article 19B, which was introduced … Read more

Will we ever see another politician like President Ong?

Jason Lee

It was exactly 10 years ago that the late President Ong Teng Cheong called a press conference at the Istana on 16 July 1999 – six weeks before his term was due to end.

While the main headlines in the newspapers the following day centred on President Ong’s decision not to stand for a second term, the issues he highlighted at the press conference certainly raised a few eyebrows.

But why did President Ong raise such issues – including the difficulties he had faced in fulfilling his role as the Elected President?

In my humble view, there’s only one reason – to educate Singaporeans and help them gain a better understanding of the Elected Presidency (EP) concept.

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