Once a ceremonial position modelled after the constitutional monarchy in the United Kingdom, the office of the President of Singapore was transformed from an appointed to an elected one in 1991. As the head of state, but not the head of government, the elected President was to have additional discretionary powers involving the spending of financial reserves, appointment of high-ranking public servants, and certain ministerial powers to detain without trial. In 2016, a constitutional commission was convened to consider further reforms to the office and the elections process. This book explores Singapore’s presidency, assessing how well it has functioned, discussing the rationales for an elected presidency, and evaluating the constitutional commission’s recommendations for reforms, including the need for minority representation in the office. In doing so, the book provides important reflections on how the constitutional reform process raises crucial questions about the rule of law and the practice of constitutionalism in Singapore.
Acknowledgments; List of Contributors; Foreword List of Tables; Table of Cases; Table of Legislations Introduction: Constitutional Design and Change in ‘Reforming’ Singapore’s Elected Presidency Jaclyn L Neo 1. Looking Back at the Elected Presidency: Design Choices and Unintended Consequences Kevin YL Tan & Lam Peng Er 2. Past Imperfect, Future Tense: The Elected Presidency and the Constitutional Development of an ‘Ever Evolving Hybrid’ Thio Li-ann 3. Mandates, Majorities and the Legitimacy of the Elected Presidency Kevin YL Tan 4. Of Good, Wise Men and Women: Privileging Elites in the Quest for Good Governance Eugene KB Tan 5. Constitutionalizing Minority Representation: The Reserved Elections Mechanism and the Politicization of Ethnicity in Singapore Jaclyn L Neo 6. Squaring the Circle: The President as a Symbol of Multiculturalism and National Unity Eugene KB Tan 7. From Eligibility to Election: The Mechanics of the Presidential Poll Jack Tsen-Ta Lee 8. Of Constitutional Commissions and Expert-Led Interpretation During Processes of Constitutional Change Maartje de Visser 9. Reflecting on Constitutional Change in Singapore: The Role of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary Swati Jhaveri