The race to be president

Nov 10, 2016 08.30AM |

PARLIAMENT yesterday (Nov 9) passed a set of constitutional changes that will make it harder for people to stand for president, but easier for minorities to do so in reserved elections.

Debate over the past three days however has been less about the higher qualifications needed and more about the race of the president – especially after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Tuesday that next year’s election would be reserved for Malays. Yesterday was no different.

The House heard from several Malay Members of Parliament, who spoke up to support minority representation in the elected presidency (EP), even as others have questioned if it was necessary. Reflecting a clear difference in ideology, all 77 People’s Action Party MPs voted for the changes, while all six MPs from the Workers’ Party voted against.

First-time MP Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) even suggested that Eurasians should be counted as a separate minority race in the EP. Currently, Eurasians are classified in the minority group that includes Indians and other minorities.

Speaking at a charity dinner for the 25th anniversary of the Association of Muslim Professionals, PM Lee said: “I look forward to a Malay president in Singapore again. It will strengthen our multiracial society.”

The last and only other Malay president was Yusof Ishak, from 1965 to 1970.

It’s not just about race, however – for a more comprehensive analysis of the EP changes, and how it will benefit the ruling party, read Bertha’s piece here.


And as for other updates from Parliament yesterday, check out our stories here:

Parliament: Turning up the heat, Shanmugam blasts WP’s ‘half baked’ proposal

Parliament: Snake in the drain? Call AVA

Parliament: Despite hiccups, Bukit Panjang LRT to keep running

Parliament: Is this the end of free plastic bags?


Meanwhile, the world is still reeling over another race – the one to the White House, which was won by Donald Trump in a stunning upset that proved a deep divide among the elites and working-class voters in the United States.

The papers are full of how he managed to trounce his opponent Hillary Clinton and what his win means for the world. But if you’re only interested in what it means for Singapore, turn to The New Paper (TNP).


Here are the four areas TNP said would be affected by a Trump presidency:

1. Financial markets – Decline in stock markets due to uncertainty of what a Trump administration will bring, but don’t expect the US dollar to dip too much.

2. Jobs/trade – The Trans-Pacific Partnership is probably dead. Jobs creation will likely be negatively impacted.

3. Defence/security – The American pivot to Asia may pivot back. Some are worried if Trump will worsen territorial conflict in the South-China Sea.

4. Singaporeans going to the US – Minorities, especially Muslims, headed to the US may be subject to more discrimination, given Trump’s campaign rhetoric about minorities over the past few months.


Featured image from TMG file. 

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