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Backdating legislation for individual needs: Setting a dangerous precedent

The amendments to the Singapore Constitution, proposed by the Prime Minister’s Office and seeking to backdate the changes to 14 September—the date Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam was sworn into office—raise questions about his continued foreign appointments and potential conflicts with the Constitution.



On 6 November, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government proposed significant amendments to Singapore’s Constitution, encapsulated in the “Constitution Amendment No. 3 Act 2023.”

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), targeting existing constitutional restrictions, presented this bill, which seeks to allow the President and ministers to engage in foreign and international roles on a personal basis.

This initiative is purportedly aimed at enhancing Singapore’s diplomatic influence and serving national interests globally.

Currently, the Constitution does not permit the President, as head of state, to take up public roles in a private capacity. The proposed amendments, if ratified, would address these constraints, allowing the President to participate in public roles privately, but only contingent on the Cabinet’s advice.

The PMO emphasizes a framework that would enable the President to engage in such roles, provided this aligns with national interests. This measure is said to aim to strike a balance. It seeks to balance the President’s autonomy with overarching national priorities. This approach underscores the Cabinet’s advisory role in guiding the President’s actions and statements in these capacities.

The PMO states that occasionally, the President or ministers are invited to take up key positions in foreign organizations. Such positions can enhance Singapore’s international standing.

Furthermore, the amendments mandate the disclosure of any acceptance or relinquishment of such offices in the Gazette, ensuring transparency. However, the timing and specificity of the bill is questionable.

As previously pointed out in another article, the amendments sought in the bill weren’t considered before former Senior Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s election as President on 14 September, which is why I named the amendment bill as the “Tharman’s bill”.

As of today, Mr Tharman continues to hold positions such as the chairmanship of the G30’s board of trustees and the co-chairmanship of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, even after his appointment as president, roles which some had assumed he would relinquish.

On 2 September, the day after he won the presidential election, he told the media that he would be reviewing his positions, given that he was set to be Singapore’s ninth president. He said then that he would also need to go along with the advice of the Cabinet on whether keeping some of these appointments would be in Singapore’s interest.

Therefore, it appears that the Cabinet’s response is to amend the constitution to accommodate Mr Tharman’s situation.

Was the Constitution violated? This question becomes particularly pertinent as the bill seeks to backdate to 14 September, the date Mr Tharman was sworn into office. If there was no violation, it is puzzling why the bill seeks to have the amendments backdated. Does this aim to rectify an administrative lapse or address a potential violation of the Singapore Constitution?

Should there indeed be actual breaches of the Constitution, can we trust Mr Tharman to perform the duties he is supposed to do as president — such as vetoing government budgets and key public appointments when necessary — even if we disregard the potential conflict of interests arising from his appointments in foreign entities?

A more significant question arises: Can the government change laws, even to the extent of backdating amendments, to enable specific individuals to remain within legal boundaries and avoid prosecution or censure?

Just imagine a scenario where a law, such as one concerning corruption, is retrospectively amended to state that personal benefits from official appointments are permissible, provided they do not exceed a certain value, thereby exonerating individuals who fall under this criterion.

Is this the ‘blank cheque’ that Singaporeans have given the PAP government to sign?

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With this new law, Minister Iswaran is appointed the de facto CEO of the Singapore Grand Prix. In fact, the Government strongly endorsed his appointment as he carried this appointment in addition to the Minister of Transport from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.. As CEO, he deserved to be feted by his colleagues and peers and is entitled to attend meetings, stay in hotels and fly business class. He can also receive gifts just like any other CEOs who also receive gifts such as moon cakes, Christmas hampers and birthday presents. Mr Iswaran appointment should also be backdated similar… Read more »

To be extremely honest I am sure here are heavily infested with absolute brainless maggots. This is for Singapore good, can’t you understand simple logic? Go fuck yourself or suck your own balls to be smarter, stop being a moron, okay?

i agree but don’t need to question so much.
they want to show off in “foreign and international roles on a personal basis”? why personal? if REALLY personal, no money involved, then ok loh.

but if got money one then how to call it “personal”. it’s PRO fessional then! just say that the pineapple man want to earn more free money , by selling his prez name. be honest!!! dun FICA me hor, is gahmen wanna change law for pineapple man not me.

This is called manipulation. No trust.

Can one describe this PAP Administration as a BUNCH of Convenient Political Criminals, to do things as and when SUITS THEIR POWER FANTASY ?

They are Gods when the Big Bosses ( Xi and Biden) agree to it. No?!?

The PAP is ULTRA sore loosers.
But commanding Parliament and THEREFORE because of their Parliament Monopoly, treating laws AS THEIR inconveniences when it’s NOT THEIR FAVOUR, and WHEN they MADE MISTAKES, Singaporeans ARE JUST Shit to them.

Classically as jokers – Sheegaporeans are World’s Political Clowns champions, obtained in 2010.

As the “gods” of SillyPore, … this regime holds no fears or concerns, … not from any living being or their actions/intentions !!!

One CAN COMPARE – is the PAP any worst than the German Nazis, Hamas, Mussolini, or Gen Pinochet? How about Saddan Hussein being a role for PAP?

Of course people won’t agree and won’t like comparisons of PAP subtle VICIOUSNESS – bcz society tastes AND TOLERANCE has evolved. BUT the INGREDIENTS are NOT that UNSAVOURY, is it too much to liken the PAP as them – well this PAP has a small semblance.

Basically , backdating means the G admits that the PE candidacy of Tharman was flawed and the committee did not handle the eligibility criteria well. But backdating starts a dangerous precedent, I agree.

Last edited 6 months ago by ganeshshk

They bend anything is mostly for themselves … Nothing else.

I guess …The backdating is not for Tharman,

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Last edited 6 months ago by wee

This is par for the course. The PAP govt did EXACTLY the SAME thing to keep Tan Cheng Bock out of the Istana (and slipped in an Indian as a Malay to be the president).

If they WANT to amend the constitution for this, make it such that ANY civil servant wanting to moonlight for a foreign govt or corporate entity MUST first get the approval of either his minister or the cabinet. Such things cannot and should not be done under the table. Annnd … any such “work” should NOT be compensated for obvious reasons.

When a chi kok pek old man can stand erection after posting sexy bumps on the internet, what cannot this Government do honorably than old dick drooling some young girls sexy shorts and shot. Go as Jessie for a blow job to hallow the heat. Of course Cherasa also can.

Actually why bother to make cosmetic changes about holding international appointments. Just amend the constitution a sitting MP can also vie for Presidency no need to resign and do all the wayang.

Not a single high ranking legal officer has anything to say.
Not a single Member of Parliament ( PAP) has anything to say
Not a single one has any conscience.
Happy to get high office appointment and money
But is able say things about Palestine..

This is normal yah..?!!

The Conflict of Interests is glaring just as in Ridout Road but they are confident of winning the next elections with a majority and are showing us their middle finger. The 74% who voted Tharman in, have made it possible for the PAP to continue to become a stronger authoritarian govt. They have betrayed the State, themselves and families. We will pay a high price for electing Tharman.

This action to amend the constitution clearly shows President Tharman Is not as independent as he or the Government wants everyone to believe.

This amendment can also be seen as a preparation for the outgoing PM to be in a position to assume some prominent position in organisations outside of Singapore.

Does Singapore really need to clamour for this “face” in the international arena?

The PAP Administration has never never has had, and will never do so to have, any respect, for the 1,000,000.00s (millions in words) of Singaporeans.

This is nwvr nwvr a PAP Administration character even 50 years ago.

They toy with voters, fraud Singaporeans, manipulated, and control.

What? To say the least Sheegaporeans ARE EXTREME FOOLS.

This case makes it even more critical that the opposition wins enough seats in the next GE or at least the one after that to deprive the PAP the two thirds majority.

This prevents the PAP from railroading parliament into changing laws to suit themselves.

The 70 likes so much of their papsident

President you can find easily elsewhere .

I really suggest people go look at the changes to all our laws since 2019.