Elected presidency may be reviewed as racial make-up evolves

This article is more than 12 months old

Even though provisions have been made to ensure that minorities are elected president from time to time, the elected presidency may need to be reviewed down the road as Singapore's racial make-up evolves, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

This is because the lines between different races will begin to blur with more mixed marriages, he added at a dialogue with about 150 young people.

The event was organised by non-profit inter-faith organisation Roses of Peace.

Asked about how the elected presidency can continue to be representative as racial groups become less distinct, Mr Tan noted that the elected presidency system has been reviewed and tweaked over the years to keep up with the times and would probably be refreshed in future as well.

One option to ensure the system remains representative is the old way of appointing presidents, he said.

This was mooted by a Constitutional Commission reviewing the elected presidency last year.

It had said the Government could consider separating the custodial and ceremonial roles of the President and have Parliament appoint the president.

Under this system, that was in place until 1991, there was an unspoken rule that saw the role being rotated among the major racial groups.

Mr Tan, citing this, said there is a desire for multiracial representation.

During the dialogue held at the Jamiyah Children's Home in Guillemard Crescent, he also spoke about the construct of the four main racial groups - Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others - and the important role it plays in maintaining racial harmony.

Some people see the model as highlighting the differences between different races, Mr Tan acknowledged.

But he said recognising the differences can allow them to be managed with sensitivity.

tan chuan-jinRace & ReligionSingapore