SINGAPORE: Reserving a Presidential Election for candidates from a particular minority community is part of Singapore's multiracialism policy, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Friday (Sep 8).
Speaking at a dialogue session to mark the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy's (LKYSPP) 13th anniversary, Mr Goh noted that the reserved election this year is "quite unpopular with a large proportion of the population because it goes against the principle of meritocracy".
He added, however, that Singaporeans should understand why the Government is doing this.
Mr Goh said Singapore has been successful in managing race and ethnic relations because it "started very early from day one", citing the ethnic integration policy for public housing as an example. The policy helps to ensure an ethnic mix in HDB estates to help promote racial integration and harmony.
"We have succeeded because we started very early from day one. Everybody is equal and yet you know their differences. We try and make them equal in result when we can – on a fair and just principle basis," Mr Goh said in response to a question about how Singapore has been able to manage race relations.
When asked about the potential crises Singapore could face in the future, Mr Goh said: "Terrorism is closer than you think."
He noted that pro-Islamic State (IS) militants are already in Marawi in the southern Philippines, and IS "may have a chance to establish itself in Rakhine state in Myanmar".
In Singapore, it was announced on Thursday that two Singaporeans were arrested in July under the Internal Security Act for terror-related activities. "Those whom we have arrested - a handful - but how many are out there, we don't know," said Mr Goh who is also chairman of the governing board of LKYSPP.
"The Government is already passing the message – more or less trying to condition all of us – (that) it's not a question of if a bomb or truck will be driven into some crowded place in Singapore, it’s a question of when.
"The big worry for us in reaction is not the bomb per se, it's the aftermath. What would that mean for race relations? If race relations become fragile, broken, collapsed, then the terrorists would have achieved their purpose."