Speaking at the National Day Rally speech tonight (Aug 21), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong openly announced that he will change the country’s constitution, impose stricter presidential qualification requirements and reduce the power of the incoming President.
1) Changing Constitution using racism
Prime Minister Lee alleged that the Chinese majority Singaporeans are racist and that “race is still a factor in elections”. The dictator claimed that “this puts minority candidates at a disadvantage” and “minorities may ask if they are truly equal and the Chinese majority may become less sensitive to the needs of other races.”
2) Imposing stricter Presidential candidacy requirements
Lee Hsien Loong said that the current criteria of $100 million in paid up capital is out of date and this benchmark has to be “updated”. The move will likely exclude more Singaporeans and micro the position for a few selected elites. Other “stricter requirements” have not been mentioned but it is likely former candidates like Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian would be disqualified this round.
3) Reducing President’s powers
Lee Hsien Loong will reduce the power of the President by giving more weight to the advice of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), in what he claims, “so that the president can benefit from their collective wisdom”. Without the CPA’s approval, the President is useless.
The Council comprises six members and two alternate members. Two members are appointed by the President at his discretion; two are the Prime Minister’s nominees; one is the Chief Justice’s nominee; and one is the nominee of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC). However, given Singapore’s political affairs, effectively all 4 nominees are under the control of the Prime Minister as the Chairman of the PSC and Chief Justice are appointed by him too.
Although Lee Hsien Loong suggested the reduction of the President’s powers, he did not mention if the salaries would similarly be reduced.