The commission tasked to review and make proposal to Singapore’s Elected Presidency (EP) has completed their works. Next is for the PAP government to consider the extent of changes before tabling it in parliament. It’s not wrong to say that whatever put forth to parliament is going to be passed because the ruling party PAP occupies 83 out of the 89 MP seats, even though last GE PAP got an overall vote share of slightly less than 70%. Ape digress.
One of the key reasons cited for the review of EP is the representation from minority races. From a pure statistics point of view, Ape do think it is important to level the field so that a candidate from the minority race will not be slighted due to his/her ethnicity.
According to Wikipedia, the ethnic groups are distributed such that Chinese holds a huge majority (less than PAP’s dominance in parliament though). Ape assumes the eligible voters are distributed more or less in the same manner. Assuming voters do vote along racial lines, a Malay candidate not only has to win the votes of all the Indians and Others, he/she will also need to get more than 1/3 of the Chinese’ votes.
Votes aside, given the stringent eligibility criteria, what are the probabilities of a candidate from the minority groups to step forward to run for election? Since EP was put in place, the first 2 candidates to run for election were Chinese. Subsequently, the next 2 Presidential Election was a walkover since there’s no other contenders besides the late S R Nathan, a minority race. When he has served 2 full terms uncontested, Presidential Election 2011 sees 4 candidates. All Chinese and all happened to be carrying the surname of Tan! What are the odds? If statistics has its way, there should be at least 1 eligible Chinese contesting in 2005 and 2009. In short, Ape is talking cock looking at the EP statistically.
Also, are Singaporean voters that ignorant and vote based on racial lines? CNA did a survey and apparently, the results show Singaporeans do have a preference towards candidates of their own race. However, let’s not forget, surveys can be biased. If given a choice of cha kuay teow and mee goreng, surely Ape has a preference but is this the only consideration? Price, quality, location etc can be factors Ape considers as well. Similarly, when voting for a President, the qualifications, ideals, public behavior and speaking skills, demeanour etc will all come into consideration. The candidate’s ethnicity will be the least of Ape’s concern.
Ape don’t know who got the idea but somehow, it seems important that Singapore has to have a fair representation of presidents coming from different races. So much so that if a particular race has candidates stepping forward and eventually become the President, for the last 5 presidential terms, candidates from that race will be denied running for Presidency unless no candidates from the other races step forward. This proposal contradict the other proposal of tightening the qualification criteria. On one hand, the PAP government is saying because the President has custodial authority over the past reserves, therefore the eligibility criteria has to be increased. The best person who knows how to manage money should be President. On the other hand, because the President hold ceremonial responsibilities, therefore we should have fair representation of Presidents from different racial background. What if come that fateful day when a candidate is well liked by most Singaporeans, have all the qualifications and qualities to be President, yet being denied because his/her predecessors are all of the same race for the last 5 terms. Change the Constitution again?