Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Singapore Presidential Election

As we move forward to the next presidential elections here in Singapore I can't help but feel less than enthusiastic about the prospect.

A special provision has also been recommended to guarantee that the highest office is accessible - and attainable - by members of the country's minority communities. In other words, if someone from any of three racial groups - Chinese, Malay, or Indian and Others - has not been president for five terms, the next election should be reserved for members of that race. With the proposed provision taking effect immediately, it means that the next election would be reserved for only Malay candidates.

The problem with this is firstly that as per the current constitution the highest office of the land is already accessible and attainable by members of the country's minority communities. Secondly it means that the next election is "race" specific which for me goes against the fundamental tenants of our national pledge, and dilutes what is already a democratic process.

The word "tokenism" has been used online and even by many of my own Malay friends. And I find myself agreeing with the sentiment. We have moved away from selecting the right person for the job to making the election race specific and in doing so barred people who could potentially be better candidates.

Various rationales have been put forward for this approach but I am still left scratching my head after reading them. While I can understand the "why", the fact that the next presidential election is race specific is just a very hard pill to swallow. Our nations pledge uses words like "regardless of race", "justice and equality" not to mention "build a democratic society" and yet this very move seems on the surface to undermine them all. It's as though words that I took very much to heart on becoming a Singapore Citizen no longer carry the same meaning.

And while many may applaud the approach I find myself feeling resigned to watching the national pledge and everything it stood for fade into the background to become nothing more than a memory and wonder what's next?