Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock has broken his silence about the upcoming presidential elections in a press conference held today.
He said: “I am concerned that our EP (Elected President) will always be tainted with the suspicion that the reserved election of 2017 was introduced to prevent my candidacy.”
He asked the government to consider making the next election an open one, citing a technical clause that would make the following election after the upcoming one in 2017 a reserved one for Malay candidates, that is if a member of the Malay community is not elected president this year.
Under changes passed to the Constitution in November, if there is not a President from a particular racial community for five consecutive terms, then the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.
Dr Tan says that the prime minister should not accept the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s (AGC) recommendation to start counting the number of presidents from President Wee Kim Wee onwards.
Instead they should consider Mr Ong Teng Cheong the very first people elected president in Singapore.
“In all my 26 years in Parliament, we have always referred to Mr Ong Teng Cheong as the first elected President,” he said. “Even the commission’s report contains a statement referring to President Ong as the first Elected President.”
He asked the Government to explain whether his explanation or the AGC’s interpretation is correct.
Under the current regulations, Tan Cheng Bock will not be allowed to contest the Presidential Election if it is a closed one reserved for Malay candidates.
When asked about why his initial reaction to the proposed changes to the presidency last year was to call on members of the public to not “jump to conclusions”, Dr Tan said he kept his piece about the changes because he did not want to interfere in the parliamentary debates. He added he was quite “resigned” to not being able to stand for election.
“I know some of you were wondering why I stayed silent so long, and on my Facebook.” When I stay silent, always remember that I’m thinking. That’s important.”