Monday, December 19, 2016

Singapore expands its paternalistic policy on race. Only ethnic Malays would be permitted to run for president next year.


But Singapore’s paternalism has not gone away. In early November the government announced that only ethnic Malays would be permitted to run for president next year. The constitution will be amended to mandate that presidential elections be reserved for members of a certain ethnic group if nobody from that group has served as president for the past five terms.

Until 1993 parliament chose the president—a largely ceremonial post. Since Singapore began electing its presidents directly, two Chinese-Singaporeans and one Indian-Singaporean have served. The last Malay president was Singapore’s first, Yusof Ishak, who held office from 1965 to 1970. Possible candidates in next year’s election, which must be held before August, include Halimah Yacob and Abdullah Tarmugi, the current and previous Speakers of Parliament. Mr Lee has said the move will ensure that every citizen will “know that someone of his community can become president and in fact, from time to time, does become president”.

Yet some Malays have decried what they see as shallow tokenism. Others have noted that the rule bars Tan Cheng Bock, a former minister who is critical of the government and nearly won the previous presidential race, from running (he is Chinese). A spokesman for the government has dismissed the idea that such a base motive played any part in its decision as “factually false”. Full story...

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