Presidential Election 2017 will be reserved for Malay candidates: Lee Hsien Loong

Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Singapore’s next president will likely be a Malay, with next year’s Presidential Election reserved for eligible Malay candidates.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday (8 November), on the second day of the debate on proposed changes to the Elected Presidency.

“As Minister Yaacob (Ibrahim) noted yesterday, this would be our first after more than 46 years, since our first President Encik Yusof Ishak. I look forward to this,” said Lee.

A Channel NewsAsia report said that the move is based on the hiatus-triggered model, which states that if there is no president from a particular community for five consecutive terms, the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.

In this case, the countdown starts from Wee Kim Wee (1985-93), the first President who exercised the powers of the Elected Presidency.

This means that in the course of six terms, there should be at least one President from the Chinese, Malay, Indian and other minority communities, provided qualified candidates appear, he explained.

The relevant amendments to the Presidential Elections Act will be made in January next year.

Lee said that the president, as the head of state, must represent all Singaporeans and that the office must be multiracial.

“Every citizen, Chinese, Malay, Indian or some other race, should know that someone of his community can become President, and in fact from time to time, does become President,” said Lee.

The Prime Minister stressed, “These changes are my responsibility,” he said, “I am doing it now because it would be irresponsible of me to kick this can down the road and leave the problem to my successors.”

At this year’s National Day Rally, Lee had said that changes to the EP were needed in order to preserve the multiracial ideal.