How Bad Are The Changes To Singapore’s Elected Presidency?

A few changes were announced to the next presidential election, namely:

Criteria #1: the candidate should be the most senior company exec with at least $500 million in shareholders’ equity

Criteria #2: each race must be represented within 6 terms

There are 2 common threads I’ve noticed on my Facebook feed on the news of the changes to the elected presidency of Singapore.


I actually laughed at this hashtag because of its creativity.

Yes in a way Dr Tan is blocked, but I was told it is not because of the racial minority rule.

It’s because of he doesn’t meet the “meritocratic” Criteria #1 of $500m rule.

I don’t know if he feels more insulted at being blocked for a meritocratic reason (because he’s not in a high-enough position in a rich-enough company) or a racial one (because he’s Chinese).

I fondly remember Dr Tan as the person who gave Singapore free Sunday HDB parking, which Singaporeans still enjoy till today.

But since the president’s role is custodial and not executive (means he can say yes or no to government actions in specified areas, but cannot advance his own policy agenda), if Dr Tan ever wins the presidency, can he still wield the same power compared to an MP to implement the changes he wants to make to the system?

Tokenism for racial minorities

Do you feel offended when told that the next presidential candidates must be Malay?

Don’t troll me, I’m just being the Devil’s Advocate. What if in the future, we don’t have a Chinese, Indian or “Others” president for the next 5 terms and the Criteria #2 of racial representation kicks in, should these races feel offended too when the time comes?

If race is included in legislation for the intents of preserving racial superiority, like the bumiputra policy in Malaysia, it’s racist, no?

If race is included in legislation for the intents of distributing fair chances for every race, like the elected presidency, is it also racist?

If you said yes to the latter, do you think Singapore should relook our HDB racial policies too and the existence of CDAC, Mendaki and Sinda?

Singaporeans are more racist than we claim otherwise, according to a survey by IPS.

Just look at these figures below.

If we keep in mind that the majority of Singaporean citizens are Chinese, does the above table mean that it will be more difficult for a non-Chinese elected president to occur in future?

Are we harping on the race issue because we are actually secretly embarrassed about the fact that our country (which upholds meritocracy highly as a virtue) must go to the extent to legislate fair chances for all races in the presidential elections, in order counter-balance the inherent racism in voters?

Now that I’ve given you food for thought, the 2 big questions on my mind are:

1. Who will qualify as the next Singapore presidential candidate?

2. Which candidate will win the US Presidential election? And what will the result mean for Singapore?

Originally published at Jules of Singapore.