Singapore: Arguments over definition of president at Tan Cheng Bock’s appeal hearing – 1 Aug 2017

  • Senior Counsel Chelva Retnam Rajah said a president must be someone who was popularly elected, while Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair said the constitutional definition of president included those who were elected by Parliament and by the people.
  • The two men were arguing about how Article 19(B)1 in the Constitution should be read. The provision allows the Government to reserve a presidential election for candidates from a particular community if it has not been represented in the highest office in the land for five consecutive terms.
  • Mr Rajah said that for the purposes of this count, a president must be elected by the people in an open election.
  • President Wee, who was the first president to be vested with the powers of the elected president, was elected by Parliament. He was followed by President Ong Teng Cheong, who was elected by Singapore citizens in the first presidential election in 1993.
  • If Mr Rajah’s arguments prevail and the count starts from President Ong’s term, the reserved election would start in 2023 at the earliest.

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