Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Presidential Selection err Election

Why do people think that the president is elected rather than selected?

In 1991, the elected presidency was created, giving the president more veto powers over government budgets and key appointments in the civil service. In theory this is a fantastic check and balance to the ruling party of the day or in PAP' case, the decades. Everything sounds nice and naughty at the same time.

Nice because WOW the PAP allowed the president to move out of his ceremonial role into a custodial role, albeit slightly. Naughty because HEY, there is the Presidential Elections Committee and a strict criteria on who can be the head of state in Singapore, a parliamentarian system where the PM is the boss while the president smiles and is the last to arrive and first to go at National Day parades.What is this committee that decides who can run for the head of state office?

This is what the Elections Department says. "The Chairman of the Public Service Commission chairs the Committee, which comprises 2 other members - one is the Chairman of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and the other is a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights nominated by the Chairman of the Council."

So that means Eddie Teo would be the main man deciding who can get into the ring. He would be aided by Chan Lai Fung (ACRA chair) and someone from the Presidential Council for Minority Rights. The question of course is whether these top civil servants should be the ones to determine who can run for president. Or should the public decide themselves rather than the civil service provide a filter, a screen for the PAP? Or should the committee be more diverse in its composition e.g. one civil servant, one from the judiciary, one from business sector. That's a nicer spin isn't it?

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