Sunday, June 12, 2011

Much ado about nothing

Mr K. Shangmugam and Prof Jayakumar have made it abundantly clear that the President has no executive powers, only custodial ones. In other words, his work is that of a goalie and woe is he if he takes the ball right across the field to put one in the opponent's net, not that it has not been done before. President Ong Teng Cheong tested these waters and came up against a brick wall, and Mr Ong Teng Cheong was once a Deputy Prime Minister. The PM and his Cabinet are still the 'boss'.

Why do we even bother to elect the President of Singapore? The vote will make absolutely no difference to the endgame because the 'real' powers still reside in the government. And if the sitting government wants to play punk, I am sure it can think of ways to go around the toothless powers of the President. That power can easily be circumvented because the President is still a human being. You don't really have to empty the Reserves to enrich yourself. Just 0.0001% is more than enough to last you a lifetime. What counts is that the 'right' government be put in place - honest and 'clean' people. If this turns out not to be the case, that the powers that be are raiding the coffers, I am sure Singaporeans will protest in numbers, both online and probably offline too. That's better than a President whose powers are so limited in the first place.

The only reason Singaporeans are given the right to choose the President is that it gives a certain accountability (ok, it also called 'blame') when things don't work out - 'it is not the government's fault...'. But given the stringent criteria for standing, the presidential candidates are effectively already filtered without any campaigning. So no Fullerton Square speeches, no knocking on door to door, and certainly no TPL. Things will be a lot less controversial. The result will just be about bragging rights, with no significant consequence.

This is why I feel that Mr George Yeo should not stand for election. He is way too young to be some people's mouthpiece. And the young people who are supporting him? They are just so ignorant. Energetic perhaps, but haven't considered what they are asking of Mr Yeo. They think this is a consolation prize, or even a First Prize, a GE 2.0, perhaps? Rather, Mr Yeo should turn his talent and effort to more substantive work, where a greater number of people stand to benefit, probably on the world stage.

Having said all that, all of us can do with another public holiday, though business owners may not be all that enthusiastic about the lost of productivity over an inconsequential event.

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