Human rights lawyer M. Ravi yesterday filed a constitutional challenge against changes to the elected presidency made last year.
The changes, which Parliament approved last November, tighten the qualifying criteria for candidates, and include a provision to reserve a presidential election for candidates from a racial group that has not been represented in the office for five continuous terms.
Mr Ravi argues that the changes are unconstitutional because they deprive citizens of their right to stand for public office and discriminate on the grounds of ethnicity.
The High Court confirmed that Mr Ravi had filed an originating summons and supporting affidavit.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Chambers told The Straits Times that “it will study the papers” filed by Mr Ravi.
Mr Ravi, currently a non-practising lawyer, said on Facebook that he filed the application in his capacity as a private citizen.
His is the second legal challenge related to the elected presidency mounted this month.
On May 5, former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock filed a challenge over whether the upcoming presidential election should be a reserved one.
Unlike Dr Tan, Mr Ravi challenges the entire reserved election mechanism as unconstitutional, he said on Facebook yesterday.
He believes that the elected presidency is not consistent with Article 12(2) of the Constitution.
It states that unless expressly authorised by the Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against Singapore citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law, or in the appointment to any office, or employment under a public authority.
“The right to stand for the elected presidency should be no different from the right to participate in parliamentary elections – all citizens should be equal,” he wrote.
“The selection of the elected candidate should be based on merit, all other relevant requirements being fulfilled.”
Mr Ravi also contends the amendments run counter to a legal principle called the basic structure doctrine, which he says applies here.