05 October 2016
Singapore’s Elected Presidency now includes institutionalised safeguards to ensure minority representation. This change recognises the importance for representation across races in a diverse society, but may instead exacerbate voting along racial lines.
The government has accepted the Constitutional Commission’s recommendation to reserve an election for candidates from a particular race if a member of that racial group has not been elected in the five terms prior.
The proposed changes, to be tabled in Parliament, seek to cultivate a society that recognises the value of cultural diversity and does not allow negative perceptions of difference to affect behaviour. Institutionalising this mentality through the elected presidency (EP) treats the recognition of racial differences as a civic principle that should be upheld across and within institutions of civil society. With this understanding, there are clear merits to safeguarding the representation of racial groups through the EP. With revisions set in motion, we should now consider measures needed to mitigate any self-fulfilling prophecy of voting along racial lines that could inadvertently emerge.
… Terri-Anne Teo is a Research Fellow with the Social Resilience Programme at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This appeared earlier in The Straits Times.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 06/10/2016