Since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last week that next year’s presidential election will be reserved for Malay candidates, there have been much annoyance in the Malay community.

We really don’t need this do we. I mean look at Tharman. Look at Murali. We are definitely more than capable to vote beyond racial lines.

Come on man . . .

The Straits Times added to this annoyance further when they published an article which featured all the potential candidates from the Public Sector.

Guess what – they are all former or current ministers from the ruling party.

It was like rubbing salt to our wounds which we suffered from all the years of racial discrimination.


Malay4.PNGSingapore has not had a Malay president since its first president Yusof Ishak, who died in office in 1970 and PM Lee made a judgement call to change the Constitution to ensure minorities are represented in the elected presidency from time to time, as the office is a symbol of the nation’s multiracialism.

It was never about that Tan Cheng Bock as some people made you to believe.

Heck he would not have been eligible even if it wasn’t a reserved election for the Malays because unlike in 2011 he is NO LONGER the the most senior executive of a company with at least $500 million in shareholders’ equity (a requirement for a Presidential Candidate).

Today, Straits Times continued their reporting of the Elected Presidency by publishing two articles (one pro and the other con) to show two sides of the argument – both articles were written by Malay Singaporeans

A common theme which runs through both articles was the issue of tokenism.

Here are excerpts from both articles which summaries their argument.

“It seems to suggest that we are still unable to compete on the same level with the rest of the population and that we remain a troubled community that requires – selectively – a big handicap. It makes me wonder what happened to our belief in boosting self-reliance and self-respect through doing away with affirmative action and race-based state aid in education and career progression”

“Even without changes to the elected presidency, it will not take quite so long. After all, minority MPs have regularly won elections in single-seat constituencies while others have led teams in group representation constituencies – a scheme originally created to assist minority candidates to be elected into Parliament – instead of being pedestrian members of the GRCs.”

“Whatever the shortcomings, the amendments passed ensure that the sanctity and prestige of the elected presidency are not compromised, through the provision of several safeguards.

The first is a higher bar for candidates such that only capable individuals need apply. There are no exceptions and minorities have to meet the same strict qualifying criteria.

The second safeguard is that since the next election is reserved for Malays, Malay candidates who want to win must drum up support among all Singaporeans, regardless of their race or religion. He or she cannot campaign solely on a platform of Malay interests but must instead seek to represent Singapore’s multicultural and secular values.”

The Singapore system has never been a perfect meritocracy. Instead, it has always been an “abridged” one. Nonetheless, it is this abridged meritocracy that has ensured minority representation in our parliamentary democracy, which also stabilises race relations in the country. Thus, applying it to the elected presidency scheme is not unprecedented and has its merits.”

 – Elected Presidency changes: Big step backwards for Malay community

 – Elected Presidency changes: Necessary tokenism to boost long-term multiracialism

As the first article gets shared around more widely on social media (because it fits the online narrative), the Malay community is seriously more annoyed rather then angry.

I really hope that you can give them perspective by also sharing the second article above because it offers a glimpse of the reality on the upcoming election.

Only time can tell if the upcoming Malay candidate can represent the voices of the majority of Singaporeans just like Encik Yusof Ishak did AND more importantly, if there will be another Malay candidate coming through for future Presidential Elections, before it becomes necessary to be “hiatus-triggered” once again.