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    Apr 18, 2016

    Hearings on elected presidency's proposed changes begin

    THE hearings on proposed changes to the elected presidency will start today, with at least four academics and a researcher set to speak on the matter.

    They are Singapore Management University law professors Eugene Tan and Jack Lee, Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Mathew Mathews, academic Loke Hoe Yeong from the Associate Fellow European Union Centre in Singapore and human rights researcher Brian Chang.

    The five are among 19 individuals and groups who will give their views at four hearings on the elected presidency, instituted in 1991.

    They were invited by the Constitutional Commission, formed to review the elected presidency, that selected them out of more than 100 individuals and groups who had sent in their views on the matter during a public consultation.

    The commission, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, was appointed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in February to review three aspects of the elected presidency.

    The three areas are: the eligibility criteria for candidates; provisions for minority candidates to have a chance of being elected from time to time; and changes to ensure members of the Council of Presidential Advisers have experience in the public and private sectors.

    On the qualifying criteria, Prof Tan said in his submissions that he agreed they should be made more stringent, given the increase in reserves that the president has to safeguard. But he added any changes in criteria should come into effect only after the next presidential election that is due in August next year.

    Mr Chang and Mr Loke focused on the provisions for minority candidates in their submissions.

    They suggested the creation of a new role of vice-president. The latter would have to be of a different race from the president, and must contest the election on the same ticket.

    Mr Chang said it would be in line with international laws on human rights, as anyone of any race will be able to stand in the election.

    The public hearing will be held at the Supreme Court auditorium from 9.30am to 5pm today. The other hearings will be on Friday, April 26 and May 6.