Photo of Eugene Tan from asianscientist

Speaking to the state media, professor, students and academia of Singapore Management University (SMU) sang along in tandem with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over the recent corruption of the President election. Associate Professor Eugene Tan, from SMU’s law school, poured praises saying that the constitution review has been made “alive”:

“It was a privilege and honour to be part of this important and path-finding review process. This is, after all, only the second constitutional commission in our history, with the first half a century ago! For me, it was also a rare opportunity to encourage my Constitutional Law class students to be part of the review process … I believe that the experience brought constitutional law alive for the students, and demonstrated how they can play a role in the review process.”

From the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), research assistant Tan Min Wei professed that a “problem” has been solved but expressed dismay that the committee did not follow exactly Lee Hsien Loong’s directive:

“I was personally surprised that the commission chose to venture outside the terms of reference in regard to removing the Elected Presidency altogether. My expectation when working with (IPS deputy director) Dr Gillian Koh on our submission is that the commission would chose to stay within the set terms of reference laid out by the Prime Minister.”

Another IPS employee, senior research fellow Mathew Mathews said the constitution review is “meaningful”. Lawyer Ronald Wong, waxed lyrical about the proposals saying “not many people in the world get to participate in such a national institution-building deliberative democracy process like that. So this privilege, which is available to all Singapore citizens, is a heavy one.”

Opposing voices were however present in the state media report, but the tone was resigned and criticisms were moderated. with one from Associate Professor Jack Lee, from SMU’s law school, who expressed disagreement with Lee Hsien Loong’s proposal, saying he “remains unconvinced” and the proposal is not a good idea. Jolene Tan from Association of Women and Research, said she “continue to disagree” but stop short of calling the proposals racist. Human rights group Maruah also disagree with the rewriting of the constitution and even lambasted the government saying that their voices were useless because they were not even cited once in the commission’s report.