SINGAPORE: The debate on proposed changes to the Elected Presidency system kicked off in Parliament on Monday (Nov 7).
The debate, which is expected to last three days, will see Members of Parliament (MPs) speaking about the changes, which include raising the eligibility criteria and reserving an election for a particular racial group if there has not been a President from the group for five consecutive terms.
Prior to the start of the debate on Monday, Speaker of Parliament Mdm Halimah Yacob delivered a message to Parliament on behalf of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, in which he urged MPs discussing the proposed changes to keep Singapore's future in mind. The Elected President must act in accordance with the roles prescribed in the Constitution and not hold back the Elected Government of the day from performing its executive role or serve as a second centre of power, he said.
In a 1.5-hour speech during the debate, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also made a case for the proposed changes, saying that they would provide stability to Singapore's system and “help to avoid gridlock in situations where the President and the Government do not agree”.
A Bill to amend the Constitution which includes the changes was tabled by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the House’s previous sitting.
In its White Paper released in September, the Government had broadly accepted the recommendations made by a nine-member Constitutional Commission in its review of the Elected Presidency system.