IS Mr Wee Kim Wee (WKW) the first Elected President (EP) of Singapore? Or was it Mr Ong Teng Cheong?
More importantly, is Mr Tan Cheng Bock (TCB) eligible to run for president this year? In his press conference on 31 March 2017, Mr Tan questioned about open elections and whether Mr Ong Teng Cheong is the first EP.
The change in qualifying criteria is to ensure that only qualified personnel are eligible to run for president. We don’t want another Tan Kin Lian or John Smith to appear. With that said, TCB was not in the most senior executive position during his private sector stint, effectively ruling him out of the 2017 race. Further, the Constitutional Amendment Bill has already been passed in Parliament – see below
Constitution Amendment Bill (2016) states it as such:
An election for the office of the President is reserved for a community if no person belonging to that community has held the office of President for any of the 5 most recent terms of office of the President.
On the other point, is Mr WKW the first EP? Here’s what we found. Mr Wee Kim Wee exercised the powers of the Elected Presidency for about two years – Nov 1991 to Sep 1993.
Article 163(1) of the Constitution states that the then incumbent president – namely, President Wee – “shall exercise, perform and discharge all the functions, powers and duties conferred or imposed upon the office of President by the Constitution as amended by [the 1991 Constitution (Amendment) Act], AS IF HE HAD BEEN ELECTED to the office of President by the citizens of Singapore…”
What the AGC did was to take into account that Mr Wee Kim Wee exercised the powers of an Elected President. He is thus considered the first EP. Using simple maths – WKW, OTC, SR Nathan, SR Nathan, Tony Tan, the next PE is reserved for a person from a minority race.
Forget about Mr Tan Cheng Bock. The question now is who will run for the Elected President?
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