The original plan when it came to having “reserved” elections, was to have them only for minority race groups in Singapore.
This was revealed by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam today at a Institute of Policy Studies forum on the reserved presidential election.
Mr Shanmugam said that the plan was to reserve elections for just two groups: the Malay community, as well as Indian and other communities.
However, feedback from the Chinese ground didn’t favour this, and so a reserved election will also be held for Chinese candidates if there hasn’t been a Chinese president after 5 terms.
A PAP-dominated parliament had voted in November to change the Constitution to allow for reserved elections.
This resulted in PE2017 being a reserved-for-Malay-candidates-only election, after decision to count President Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first elected president.
That decision raised much controversy as President Ong Teng Cheong was Singapore’s first president to be voted into office in an open election.
Mr Shanmugam also said today that people tend to eventually accept the government’s move to hold a reserved election after they have been given the facts and full argument, despite their initial
He said that a reserved election is necessary to promote multi-racialism in Singapore, quoting a survey which showed that among the Chinese community, 96 percent would accept a Chinese president while only 56 percent would accept a Malay president.
Defending the government’s stance, Mr Shanmugam said that the government has consistently chosen an interventionist approach when it comes to promoting multi-racialism, unlike some countries which prefer to let things take their own course.
Singaporeans will vote for their 8th president on 23 Sept.
That is, if the 3 candidates can qualify to contest.
Former Speaker of Parliament and MP Halimah Yacob looks set to qualify despite her Indian heritage.
However, businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan will rely on the Election Dept’s discretion as they do not meet the minimum requirement of US$500 million shareholder’s equity in a private firm to qualify.