Highlights of Yaacob Ibrahim’s Speech on Monday (7-Nov-2016) on the first day of the debate over proposed changes to the elected presidency

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We do not want, and we cannot accept, tokenism.

An entire generation of Malays have grown up without ever having a Malay president.

Among the older Malays, having lived under a Malay president, it is understandable that they yearn for one after a very long time.

Some would argue that the race of the candidate should not matter. That the most important thing is whether that person can do the job, and do it well.

But to have a qualified Malay to do the job speaks to a long-held desire among the community to see one of us serving in the highest office in the land. It is about our place in this nation that we call home.

The truth is that we do not have many Malays in key positions of power and leadership.

Having one being a president is not just nice, but timely.

But this cannot, and must not, be the reason why we should have a Malay President.

We have been in the spotlight for 50 years.

We lagged behind in eduction, higher divorce rates, higher crime rates and more recently, Islam has been associated with the terrorism threat.

I was worried that a Malay candidate may not be able to command the respect of all Singaporeans.