Elected presidency: Proposed changes and reasons
The Constitutional Commission appointed to look into the elected presidency released its recommendations yesterday.
The bar for eligibility of Presidential candidates will be raised if these recommendations come into effect.
$100 million paid-up capital as an indicator of a private company's size and complexity
$500 million shareholders' equity, with a review from time to time to meet changes in the economic environment.
The current criterion is no longer relevant.
In the 1990s, only 158 of around 80,000 Singapore-incorporated companies made the cut.
As of March, the number of eligible companies has tripled, to about 600, with a minimum paid-up capital of around $431 million.
This shows things have changed.
It is better to use companies with a $500 million shareholders' equity threshold as they would be big and complex enough for their heads to have the requisite technical skills, experience and expertise in financial matters that make them suitable candidates for the presidency.
Shareholders' equity is a better proxy for a company's size and complexity as it reflects its current recorded worth.
A company might have had substantial paid-up capital at its inception, but its reserves may have significantly depleted over time if its growth stagnated and liabilities accumulated, the Commission noted.
Candidates in both public and private sectors must have served in the qualifying offices for at least three years
Doubled duration of six years
It takes time to acquire and hone the requisite skills. Also, the length of time one spends in an office can be an indirect indication of that person's success in discharging the responsibilities of that office.
No performance criterion for eligible private sector candidates
There must have been net profitability during the entire period that the applicant held the qualifying office. The company must not have gone into liquidation or entered any other type of insolvency process within three years of the applicant ceasing to be the holder of the qualifying office, or by Nomination Day for the presidential election in question, whichever is earlier.
This is so that those who qualify are capable of undertaking the tasks entrusted to the president. The Commission found this criterion unsuitable for public sector candidates.
Candidates need to be chairman or chief executive officer (CEO) of a company to be eligible
The terms "chairman" and "chief executive officer" to be replaced with a general reference, such as "the most senior executive position of the company, however that office may be titled".
As it stands, the current terms would mean that an individual can qualify as long as he has been the chairman or CEO of a company that meets the requirements, regardless of the actual nature and scope of his work within the company.
Some large companies may have non-executive chairmen who are not actively involved in running the company and are consequently unlikely to possess the necessary expertise or experience, the Commission said.
CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION MEMBERS
- Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
- Justice Tay Yong Kwang, Supreme Court judge
- Mr Eddie Teo, chairman of Public Service Commission
- Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, former Speaker of Parliament
- Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large
- Mr Chua Thian Poh, chairman and CEO of Ho Bee Land
- Mr Philip Ng Chee Tat, CEO of Far East Organization
- Mr Peter Seah Lim Huat, chairman of DBS Bank
- Mr Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and CEO of Venture Corp