Upholding Dignity of The Elected Presidency

by Patrick Liew on April 4, 2017

The institution of the elected presidency was meant to be a unifier of different sectors of the country and a force for stability and growth.

It’s therefore sad to observe how so many of our people have become polarized and divided in different quarters of the society, including in some online communities.

The government has put on public record that it is acting on the legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) on when to trigger a reserved presidential election.

Any Singaporean can challenge the legal advice or even question the competence of the AGC and seek independent judicial verification in the courts.

The Constitutional Commission chaired by the Chief Justice has undertaken extensive consultations with the public for more than a year and has undertaken even public hearings.

The Government has responded to the Commission’s report and debated over the matter for about three days before passing amendments to the Constitution.

If there were disagreements and better recommendations, our people should be entitled to know why these feedback were not raised during the public hearings and shared with the relevant parties and our people.

Anybody seeking a position in public offices should be able to respond promptly, professionally and effectively to prove that he or she can function effectively as a leader of the country.

One has to be careful about potentially discrediting the virtue, credibility and reliability of the leaders in public services – intentionally or otherwise.

Such an action may cause a cascade of negative consequences, including unpredictable consequences.

A key role of the President is to provide oversight for and protect our financial reserves.

Therefore, it’s important for future Presidents to be knowledgeable and competent in handling financial matters, amongst other salient qualities.

The latest challenge to the changes of the elected presidency is an important event that can help our people reflect about our choice of future presidents and draw many useful lessons from it.

For example, as a force for unifying the people and providing stability to the country, our President should be held to the highest possible standards.

He or she should be able to work effectively with the government to actualize our pledge to be one united people and create a brighter future.

In doing so, he or she will bring honour, prestige and glory to the office of the President.

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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