Straits Times: WP chief: We still don’t support elected presidency

Parliament

BY JEREMY AU


“What will happen if the EP (Elected President) takes an adverse approach? Then the government can be crippled.”
Mr Low Thia Khiang

THE Workers’ Party may support the new framework that allows the Government to tap investment income from the reserves for its spending, but that does not mean it has abandoned its objection to the elected presidency, said its leader Low Thia Khiang.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had drawn the link yesterday when he praised the opposition party for supporting the constitutional amendment.

But the MP for Hougang, who is the party’s secretary-general, promptly rejected it, saying the WP had not budged from its existing position.

He said the elected presidency had “political implications”.

For example, should the People’s Action Party lose a general election, “the office of the Elected President could be potentially crippling for a non-PAP government given the fact that a lot of important appointments require the President’s approval”, he said.

Mr Low argued that the strict qualifying criteria for candidates meant presidents would likely be from the Establishment, or even former PAP ministers.

The Constitution requires a candidate for the presidency to have senior management and financial experience in a large organisation, plus good character and reputation.

Mr Low also referred to the Government’s decision to set aside $150 billion to guarantee bank deposits. “What will happen if the EP (Elected President) takes an adverse approach? Then the government can be crippled.”

As for the President’s role in safeguarding Singapore’s reserves, he said there could be other ways of doing this.

PM Lee had earlier praised the WP’s “responsible approach” in supporting the constitutional changes.

He said: “We hope the WP now accepts the wisdom of having an Elected President with custodial powers, because that is at the core of this amendment… and will no longer campaign to abolish the Elected President as they did in the 2006 election.”

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