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       SINGAPORE Next Article: one of Singapore’s greatest sons  
       All races must have the chance to be elected President: Ong Ye Kung
         Posted on :07:36:02 Aug 30, 2016
       Last edited on:07:36:02 Aug 30, 2016
         Tags: sg
All races must have the chance to be elected President: Ong Ye Kung SINGAPORE: Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Aug 29) made a case in favour of proposed changes to the Elected Presidency that could safeguard minority representation, saying that the primary purpose of the President is to represent Singapore as head of state, and that it is as such important that all races have a chance to be elected. Mr Ong was responding to a panel of guests on a televised post-National Day Rally forum, who threw up concerns that such changes could compromise meritocracy and result in "token presidents" being elected. Said panelist Pravin Prakash, an associate research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies: "On one hand, nobody wants to see a situation where we don't have a minority president for a really long period of time … But it also sends out a message – and I'm worried about the message," he said. "I want us to be a society that picks a minority candidate if he's the best person for the job – and if we're not yet a society that allows for it, then I'd rather see us evolve – slowly," Mr Prakash added. "And I'm worried that this sort of policy might stifle that evolution." Fellow panelist Jeffrey Salleh, the immediate past president of Malay/Muslim community group Mendaki Club, concurred. "How does it jeopardise meritocracy in the long run?" he asked. "Personally, as a Malay, I wouldn't want a token president." Mr Ong pointed out that when Singapore appointed its heads of state before the Elected Presidency was introduced in 1991, the country saw "some outstanding individuals who were from all races; who were our Presidents and made all of us feel proud." "I don't believe that just because there are elections, therefore we cannot find such outstanding individuals from all races," said Mr Ong. "The problem – which was revealed in the CNA-IPS survey – is that when it comes to elections, whether voting becomes biased. "And because everybody, human nature is like that, we are more comfortable with somebody of our own race, and because of that, we are unable to elect a minority president. I think that's really the issue." On the question of meritocracy, Mr Ong said: "In the end, I think whether the president is (considered to be chosen based on merit) and seen to (have done a) good job has to be judged after he has done the job – and not before he is elected." STAYING COMPETITIVE AMID DISRUPTION The National Day Rally forum, which was broadcast on Facebook Live by Channel NewsAsia also dwelt on the economy and the phenomenon of technological "disruption" as raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day rally speech, and how the workforce will need to embrace the changes in order to remain competitive. Mr Ong spoke about the need for the future generation to be more entrepreneurial and resilient – the qualities that companies in the new economy would be looking out for. He added that the Government hopes to send a strong signal through changes in education policies, such as reforming the PSLE scoring system and admission criteria into tertiary institutions. "That's why we are reforming the way we score the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination); we are reforming the way polytechnics and universities admit students. So you don't admit (students) purely based on grades, but also based passion, your interests, what would you like to do. "We're changing the way curriculum is being delivered to emphasise more on real-life experience – whether it's internships or work-study programmes. Hopefully that sends a strong signal, but I just want to add one point: I hope companies can come on board – especially HR – to signal it strongly, because there are still companies who hire people just based on grades," said Mr Ong. "You have to look at those qualities." - CNA/dt
Next Article: one of Singapore’s greatest sons
All races must have the chance to be elected President: Ong Ye Kung  
one of Singapore’s greatest sons  
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