Reserved election “to guard against social inequity”?


I refer to the article “Reserved presidential elections another stabiliser in Singapore’s political system: ESM Goh Chok Tong” (Sunday Times, Aug 20).

It states that “the Government has adapted the Westminster parliamentary system to local conditions over the years, introducing such “Singapore-style innovations” to stabilise a free-wheeling democratic process.

Citing other such stabilisers, he said the Elected Presidency itself serves as a check against a populist and profligate government, the system of Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs ensures that at least one in five MPs will always be non-People’s Action Party MPs, and the GRC system guarantees a fair number of minority MPs in Parliament.”

In this connection, I would like to refer to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that


Article 2

1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 25

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.”

Arguably, how can the next reserved election which is estimated to be such that more than 99 per cent of the populace may not be eligible to stand for election, and for that matter – an estimated over 95 per cent of all the presidents of all the countries in the world may not qualify too, with a notable exception by the name of Donald Trump – be “to guard against social inequity, a deep fault line in many countries”?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.