Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Singapore Presidential Election 2017

Will this election be a reserved one for the "Malay" community? While Dr Tan Cheng Bock's initial case for an "open" election has been dismissed, it is still up for appeal.

Should the reserved election proceed, the likely Presidential candidates for 2017 so far are:

  1. Mr Salleh Marican (CEO, Second Chance Properties)
  2. Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan (Chairman, Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific)
  3. Mdm Halimah Yacob (Speaker of Parliament)

Mr Salleh Marican
He is of Indian heritage and lacks fluency in the Malay language.

Additionally, calculations by The Straits Times puts Second Chance’s average shareholder equity over the past three years between $254.3 million and $263.25 million, missing the eligibility criteria of at least $500 million in shareholders’ equity, on average, for the most recent three financial years.

Mr Farid Khan Kaim Khan
The question will likely hinge on whether he is "Malay" enough to contest in the Reserved Presidential Elections. It is noted that his race is indicated as “Pakistani” on his identity card,

Mdm Halimah Yacob
She has yet to confirm her interest to run for the upcoming Reserved Presidential Elections but some quarters have questioned her Malay-ness, noting she has an "Indian-Muslim father...who died when she was eight years old". Is Mdm Halimah Yacob Indian then?

It would have been much preferable to have never tried establishing a Reserved Presidential Election so that potential contenders are able to truly contest on an equal, meritocracy basis.

Should the 2017 Reserved Presidential Election come to pass, it is likely to be remembered as:

  1. Clouded by the perception of it being an attempt to block Dr Tan Cheng Bock from becoming President
  2. Reinforcing the belief that Singapore's minority races still require assistance regardless of how capable they are

The best case scenario for Singapore's 2017 President Elections that I hope for now is that Dr Tan Cheng Bock's appeal is heard by the courts and that the courts decide that the upcoming Elections should be made an "open" one for all races.

  1. Dr Tan Cheng Bock likely continues to be ineligible because of the $500 million in shareholders’ equity criteria
  2. "Malay" candidates still contend for the Elected Presidency
  3. A "Malay" candidate wins in an Open Presidential Election

The intent of Reserved Presidential Elections may sound good but is fundamentally flawed. Having to set up a committee to decide if a candidate is a member of the community goes against our nation building, our pledge of regardless of race, language or religion. It also opens up a host of possibilities such as inter-racial marriages, adoption, etc that further complicate the entire process.

The President is supposed to be an unifying figure, Singaporean first before being Chinese, Malay, Indian or Eurasian. Elections are by nature divisive amongst the candidates' supporters but let us not let it divide us further along other lines.