Government has 'missed my point totally' on Elected Presidency: Tan Cheng Bock

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock at a press conference on 31 March 2017. (Photo: Amritpal Khaira/Yahoo Singapore)

Former presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock said on Sunday that the government missed the point he was trying to make in a press briefing on Friday, when he said that this year’s presidential election should be an open one.

“I am simply asking if the government’s counting from President Wee Kim Wee followed the spirit and purpose that was proposed by the Constitutional Commission” on the Elected Presidency, he said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

His post came after The Straits Times quoted a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communications and Information as saying,  “The Government gave its response to the commission’s report in a White Paper, and Parliament debated the matter over three days, before passing amendments to the Constitution. Dr Tan has not raised any new points that require response.”

“MCI has missed my point totally,” said Tan in response. “I do not dispute the Constitutional Commission’s report or the White Paper. However, I disagree with the way the Government has triggered the reserved election.”

Reiterating the points he raised on Friday, Tan noted that the commission said that a reserved election would be triggered if five open elections produced no minority President.

“So far we have 4 open elections with no minority Malay President. So 2017 must remain an open election and if no minority Malay President wins in 2017, than a reserved election will be triggered in 2023,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), however, advised the government to count “5 consecutive terms of Presidents who exercised elected powers” to include one nominated President and four openly elected Presidents, Tan pointed out.

He asserted that it was the government’s turn to give their reasons for choosing to count differently.

“ Singaporeans need to know the truth on such an important Constitutional matter. This is a chance for the Government to explain. They should not brushed it off again,” Tan said at the end of his post.

Last November, Tan pledged to remain involved in public life despite being disqualified from the 2017 Presidential Election. Earlier that month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Parliament that the next Presidential Election would be reserved for Malay candidates. The next day, the House passed a Bill to amend the Constitution to enshrine the move.

The move came following a review of the Elected Presidency by the Constitutional Commission, which proposed a series of changes to the institution.

Tan Cheng Bock’s Facebook post:

A video of part of Tan Cheng Bock’s press conference on Friday: