Tan Cheng Bock questions Shanmugam’s comments on changes to Elected Presidency

(Photo: Yahoo Newsroom)

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock has responded to comments made by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on changes to the Elected Presidency (EP), asking if there is “some truth after all that the changes in the rules were to make sure l would not be eligible” for the 2017 Presidential Election.

In a Facebook post on Saturday (17 September), Tan referred to a Channel NewsAsia report on a public dialogue session held on Thursday (15 September) to discuss the changes to the EP, following the government’s release of a White Paper on the same day.

Shanmugam, who attended the session at South East CDC, brought up Tan’s name in response to a question regarding whether “all these changes (to the EP) are just to ensure that some individuals will not get elected”.

“You might as well mention the name of Tan Cheng Bock… Dr Tan won’t qualify (under the new eligibility rules) because he didn’t actually run a company. He was (a) non-executive. And of course the company is not S$500m shareholders’ equity,” said the minister. 

Under the proposed EP changes, presidential candidates would be required to be top executives from companies with $500 million in shareholders’ equity, a significantly higher amount than the current benchmark of $100 million in paid-up capital.

Tan, who had announced his intention to run in the 2017 presidential polls in March, responded to the comments, asking: “Has he (Shanmugam) decided that the White Paper is law ahead of parliament debate?”

“It would be a sad day for Singaporeans if a Constitutional change was made because of an individual,” he added.

Also raised during the dialogue session were issues such as mixed-race candidates and when the government could trigger a reserved election for a racial group that has not been represented in the presidential office for five consecutive terms.