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Redditors question constitution change permitting President and ministers to ‘moonlight’ amidst restrictions on NSF and civil servants

The debate over amending Singapore’s constitution to enable roles for President Tharman, recognized globally before taking office, has stirred inquiry among citizens.

Discussions on Reddit have unveiled concerns regarding potential double standards: while top officials engage in multiple roles, full-time national servicemen and civil servants encounter restrictions against moonlighting.



On 6 November, Singapore’s government proposed legislative reforms to the nation’s Constitution, which, if passed, will allow the President and ministers to accept appointments within foreign and international organizations in their personal capacities.

This move, initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and presented to parliament on 6 Nov, is said to amplify Singapore’s diplomatic influence and serve the national interest more effectively on the global stage.

The proposed amendments, encapsulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No. 3) Bill, address the current constitutional constraints that prohibit the President from participating in public roles in a private capacity.

“The Bill therefore proposes to amend the Constitution to create a framework that enables the President to perform foreign and international roles in his private capacity, when Cabinet advises that it is in the national interest for him to do so.”

The Cabinet’s role is also highlighted in these amendments, as it will provide guidance to the President on actions and statements in these roles and possess the authority to advise the President to relinquish any such position if deemed necessary.

This aspect, according to PMO, underscores the government’s intent to maintain a balance between the President’s autonomy in these roles and the overarching national priorities.

The PMO clarified that these constitutional amendments aim for comprehensive coverage across high-level government roles, ensuring that Singapore’s engagement on the international front is both effective and transparent.

“Any acceptance or relinquishment of an office under this framework by the President or a Minister, must be published in the Gazette,” added the PMO statement.

Mr Tharman’s preeminent global leadership roles beyond Singapore’s Presidency

Since assuming the presidency on September 14th after a decisive victory in the elections, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been an exemplary figure of Singaporean leadership within global organizations.

Even before his presidency, he held esteemed positions, such as the chairmanship of the G30’s board of trustees, co-chairing the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, membership on the advisory board for the UN Human Development Report, and involvement with the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees.

He currently holds these positions despite the constraints in the constitution.

There’s criticism regarding the potential conflicts of interest arising from President Tharman’s foreign appointments, which were previously raised before the Presidential Election.

Constitutional amendments prompt concerns of double standards in Singapore’s leadership roles

The legality of amending the constitution to accommodate roles for President Tharman, who was internationally recognized prior to assuming office, has sparked questions among Singaporean netizens.

Notably, observing the discussion on a Reddit thread, questioned the necessity of these amendments since Mr Tharman held these appointments before being sworn in as President.

Some have raised concerns about potential double standards, in which higher political holders can be seen holding multiple portfolios, meanwhile, full-time national servicemen (NSF) and civil servants, were explicitly advised against moonlighting.

The thread shared an opinion piece from the online media outlet Redwire, which delves into the implications of the proposed constitutional changes.

The opinion posted by a netizen “Elson”, suggested that these changes are seen as an attempt to legitimize President Tharman’s existing appointments in organizations like the World Economic Forum and G30.

Elson’s viewpoint reflects a belief that the sudden push to amend the Constitution appears to sidestep concerns about potential conflicts of interest, not only for the President but also for ministers who might hold comparable foreign positions.

The post also highlighted recent incidents like MP Tin Pei Ling’s appointment by Grab, which stirred controversy among Singaporeans.

Elson’s opinion also raises the issue of a perceived double standard, wherein leaders can occupy multiple roles and earn from diverse sources while lower-ranking individuals, like civil servants and national servicemen, face stringent constraints on additional employment opportunities.

President, Ministers and MPs Can Moonlight so why Civil Servants, Full-Time NSMen Tak Boleh? – RedWire Times Singapore
byu/ccamnvqs insingapore

“Double standard”?

In the comments section, several individuals pointed out a clear double standard. Regulars and National Servicemen (NSFs) face severe repercussions for engaging in moonlighting activities, yet our ministers seemingly do so without consequence.

Confessions of moonlighting during NS, “carrying the family burden”

Interestingly, some Redditors in the discussion confessed to moonlighting during their NS.

One Redditor emphasized the challenge of surviving the high cost of living with a three-digit monthly pay.

When questioned about how he managed to partake in part-time work without getting caught, the Redditor shared that he was tutoring students during that period. Additionally, he mentioned that many of his peers were also engaged in similar activities.

Another Redditor recollected working as a pallbearer on weekends and receiving cash payments for the service.

A comment painted a scenario where individuals forced to moonlight during NS possibly faced financial difficulties,  ‘Sir, I carry the heavy burden of my family on my shoulders’

Potential indirect benefits in additional roles without financial gain

A Redditor argued that Ministers and MPs can undertake any international role, as long as they refrain from deriving financial benefits, such as receiving salaries or allowances for fulfilling these roles.

However, this opinion faced immediate opposition from others who pointed out that even if they avoid direct financial gains, there’s a possibility of indirect benefits.

These could come in various forms, making it challenging to determine if they gain from such appointments.

Furthermore, a comment emphasized that appointments are more about wielding power and influence rather than solely about monetary gains.

Discrepancy on moonlighting restrictions

A Redditor highlighted that prohibiting moonlighting isn’t solely about additional jobs but aims to prevent past officeholders from taking positions after leaving office, where their insider knowledge might pose a threat to national security.

The comment cited an example of a former ISD chief who was employed by Malaysia’s Genting Group after retirement, suggesting a potential risk regarding sensitive information.

However, a subsequent comment challenged the viewpoint and argued that if these individuals compromise national secrets, intelligence agencies would take appropriate action.

Tthe Redditor highlighted the inconsistency of disallowing moonlighting while retired officers can still become ‘consultants’ for the highest bidder, potentially raising similar concerns.

Additionally, he criticized specific incidents like MP Tin Pei Ling‘s hiring at Grab, emphasizing perceived contradictions in employment practices.

Previously, Tin had originally joined Grab Singapore as its director of Public Affairs and Policy, in Feb this year.

This decision was said to be largely influenced by her comprehensive grasp of the digital economy and smart nation policy from a grassroots perspective, as well as her strong connections with the local community.

However, shortly after that, she was redeployed to a different department by Grab Singapore due to public opinion over potential conflicts of interest that could arise from her dual roles as a Member of Parliament and as the Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Grab.

Alternative roles for unelected incumbent party politicians

A comment argued that high salaries for ministers are intended to compensate for “job insecurity”, since, under the Westminster system, elected officials could be replaced after the election.

He claimed that “job insecurity ” discourages many talented individuals from pursuing political roles, favoring more secure professions like law or medicine.

Contrastingly, a Redditor refuted the notion and highlighted that even defeated politicians from the incumbent party can secure positions like ambassadors or union secretaries, suggesting a perceived lack of genuine job insecurity.

The Redditor questioned the fairness of expecting politicians to accept uncertain job conditions while offering lucrative opportunities post-politics.

Moreover, one Redditor pointed out a double standard in expectations between high-ranking politicians and other public servants, particularly civil servants and national servicemen (NSFs), who earn significantly less and face stricter limitations on additional employment

Redditor recalls PAP Ex-MP’s extensive 64 appointments

Meanwhile, a Redditor reminded others of a past instance involving PAP former MP Yeo Guat Guang, who held a staggering 64 appointments alongside his role as an MP, a situation described as “excessive” but perhaps inadequately so given the enormity of his portfolio.

byu/ccamnvqs from discussion


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That dude with 64 appointments can give the sad uncles some of these jobs instead of playing detective spying on neighbours…and earning peanuts…

The lust for money is gross indeed!!!! I remember GCT’s argument when he proposed the big jump in pay for the ministers was that unlike the US and other western countries their leaders and cabinet members can engage in talks and write books to make-up for the low salary then. Well look who’s talking now!!!! They just can”t get enough of it now and simply want more of it. No??????

This party is always the first to reward its members using the law to legitimize their benefits.

It is a way to coverup accusation of nepotism not corruption so that if you bring it up in court, your accusation will be TO. (Thrown Out).

PAP is in charge and will change whatever they need to suit themselves. When they wanted MILO aunty in, they said for Malays then kicked the other 2 fellas out citing some unheard of BS. Now their crony in office, obviously they’ll amend certain things as long as they benefit from it.
Typical PAP trait…no shame and full of arrogance.
BTW, what’s taking the CPIB so long to release something about our good friend Iswaran?

As LKY on ce said , “We are in charge”, So nothing much we can do about it.

Look ahead to Nov 2024, to put an end to all this so call nonsense.

A party which gets only 60% votes has 90% seats in the parliament!!!
Talk about gaming the system!!!
Corrupt and evil PAP basturds have totally rigged and corrupted Singapore’s democracy system!!!

# 1 Local born and served National Service will die out
# 2 Imported citizens will be larger portion as years go by
# 3 PAP will want to remain the Government beyond eternity
# 4 PAP will find it harder to con the best scammers in the world.
# 6 PAP will fail and fall as these scammers will oust PAP

Natural selection.
PAP can and will invent new laws, change constitution.. but will never outwit the scammers.

Singapore PAP dictatorship government want to act like World Superpower actually Singapore PAP government is not World Superpower

A bit late and farcical isn’t it, … … to question a regime that, in their very nature, … “games” the very system they created and constructed, for this very purpose !!!

It is what it is, … the regime that’s been given a strong mandate, blank cheques and absolute immunity, to do and say as they please !!!

It is what it is … …… …

Look into it deeper, PAP tricking Singaporeans to buying their capability.

THIS IS A DEFLECTION away from their ability – presumably being qualified at beyond Politics MAKE THEM VOTE ABLE, BALLS BALLS BALLS.

Didn’t TarMan and cronies know this when he offer himself to run in the PE on the slogan of “A Fairer, Compassionate, and Inclusive Singapore”? Now they want to bend the constitution to bring it up a notch to be exclusive to themselves. Where is our Ah Neh Pricksident now? Why so quiet?

When they mentioned National interest, they didn’t define what they meant? Pappy and Cronies interest are national interest, all else not?


Is there a personal capacity for those holding Public Office? Please resign if you want to continue with private and other work. There will be a conflict of interest between global interest and state interest. So the President or anyone holding Public Office should not hold two positions. I truly cannot understand how the PMO’S office can table this for legislation. Please allow younger people from the community to represent Singapore in the international stage. Tharman has had enough experience. He is already 66years old. He should be a mentor to others, not trying to take all the crowns for… Read more »

Anyway, South Korea just trashed SG 5-0 in the world cup qualifiers. Maybe can make a generous “donation” to FIFA to get one of our million$ minister to be named FIFA president, then can buy SG a place in the World Cup, hor.

This will be how the monkeys will get us to WC2034.

Basically they found Halimah was a lemon, didn’t win much international accolade for them. Now just milking Tharman for every drop. With local confidence going down (last election only at 61%), obviously they give up try to selling their monkey business to Singaporeans; instead now trying to leverage on international/external/foreign support to tell us how good they are. But: 1) isn’t this Foreign intervention? 2) can kelong it, right? Make a large “donation” to an international body so can be gain a honorary post? (eg: over-spending on YOG by 280% so that IOC will award hosting the event to SG).… Read more »

everything leegalized. its okay. Lets move on. Pineapple lovers what do you think? LOL

We pay them full time salaries doing Part Time job? where to find this kind of job? tsk tsk tsk

Voters here had 1 job to do and they cant even do it right.
They will f_ _ck it again…

Idiotic Singaporeans.
Luckily, they are not reproducing.


what’s next? legalise corruption?
i dare not bet against it

Yah their Two State Pattern. One side everything oso can, the other side tak boleh … Double standard.

The nation’s Constitution currently does not allow the President and ministers to accept appointments within foreign and international organizations in their personal capacities.

I am puzzled why TS was deemed eligible for the PE in the first place. Also, with this proposed change in the constitution in parliament, it just confirmed that the President is not allowed to accept appointments within foreign and international organizations in their personal capacities.

Loong ever mentioned to justify PAP Monsters paid highest salaries than most many other countries is bcz they don’t have other ways of making money unlike some others Politicians they don’t retire, after Political duties, but earn big bucks writing books, engage in speaking, giving consultations via world bodies for eg.
So why this switch now? Why Loong changing is mind it seems?