The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held a forum on the Reserved Presidential Election today which saw Law Minister K Shanmugam and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing speak about the upcoming election.
But it was one message that Chan had for the audience that was rather memorable, coming from him:
“The pap government has paid and will pay a political price for doing this (reserved presidential elections).
This revelation was borne out of a conversation which he and other ministers had together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when they spoke about their reservations of the reserved presidential elections.
However, Chan qualified this statement by stating that it was in the interest of the country, both today and in the future, that the government is making this change to the presidential elections now.
According to Chan, PM Lee said that we may not have a problem here and now, but what if we have a problem 20, 30 years from now? Will the 4th, 5th or 6th generation of leaders have the liberty and luxury of time and space for them to put in place a system?
For Chan, that was a lesson which taught him about the difference between a politician and a political leader.
Besides this, Chan also made 3 other points about the reserved presidential election in response to points raised by Dr Kevin Tan, Adjunct Professor from the NUS Faculty of Law, in an earlier session of the same conference.
1. Cannot hold PE more than three months before expiry of term of a sitting president
Chan said that by constitution, the presidential elections cannot be held more than three months before the end of term of a sitting president to prevent a situation where the president becomes a lame duck. On the other hand, if a president passes away during his term of office, a presidential election has to be conducted within 6 months from the death of the president. (fyi…)
2. Not unconstitutional to hold election after term of tony tan
In February 2017, Chan had gone to Parliament to seek its endorsement during the debate on the changes to the way presidential elections are run, as spelt out in the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill.
One of the changes was to “reset the clock”, such that elections be held in September, so that in the future, the campaigning will happen outside the National Day period
Hence, there is nothing unconstitutional about the reserved presidential election.
3. Fine balance between meritocracy and multi-racialism
For Singapore, meritocracy and multi-racialism cannot be mutually exclusive.
“It is two concepts that we have to constantly find the balance.” – Chan Chun sing
Chan said that we live in a society that requires us to balance the two, in order to strengthen our society, and in order to build a society that Singaporeans can be proud of, that is unique, forward-looking and inclusive.