Friday, July 15, 2011

Elections 2.0

Hmmm...Singapore's upcoming Presidential elections is becoming more and more exciting. Former PAP man - Dr Tan Cheng Bock, set the ball rolling first, although to date, he seems not to have collected the application forms from the Elections Department. Then Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income Insurance, declared his intentions, and has picked up the forms. Dr Tony Tan resigned his positions from the PAP and his high profile positions in government-linked companies to offer himself a the 3rd candidate. Now "former" SDP man, Mr Tan Jee Say is throwing in his hat too.

What a Presidential election this is shaping up to become. With Mr Tan JS' entry into the fray, the elections feel like GE 2.0. Of course he has resigned from the SDP, reportedly with Dr Chee Soon Juan's blessings. He has openly said that he will use this platform to engage on "issue of conscience..." whatever that means. If this isn't opposition electioneering, I don't know what is.  Come on, the people have already cast their votes, and whether you like it or not, won or lost, the people have spoken. I, for one, am not interested in a activist President. There will be no end of to-ing and fro-ing. Instead, let our victorious opposition speak for us in Parliament. They have the mandate and the validity, not any elected President. If you asked me, we shouldn't even need to elect a President. Let the victors nominate and have it affirmed by Parliament. The President has limited powers, and largely plays a ceremonial role. And he will still do so, no matter how aspiring Presidential candidates like to fantasize about that position. If nothing, the money is good...

You want change? Then vote in opposition in numbers for them to form the government and then change the Westminster style of government to the American one. Then Presidential elections have real meaning. I am sorry, but I think JS is way off his rocker. But then when you think that he is associated with Chee Soon Juan, you cannot be surprised by this latest development.


Anonymous said...

I can generally agree with your drift, I don't think you should gloss over the fact that we really have had NO say in many issues that in fact should require a govt to consult with the citizens before implementation. The issue of changing the president's ceremonial post to that of a quasi-ceremonial, quasi- executive one.

IMO, it is ludicrous to claim as the govt has, that the EP has no executive power when he is saddled with the job of GUARDING the national reserves. Let's make it clear and direct with a simple example: what sort of 'watchman' is the EP supposed to be? One who does regular physical patrols of the premises under his charge or one who keeps watch from a distance using a monitor? How much details can each see is obvious.

Now, if the govt only wants the EP to take on the role of the latter watchman, ie watch from a distance, then the responsibility can only be PERFUNCTORY IN THE BEST OF TIME and REACTIVE AT BEST. The inevitable conclusion is that its just a wayang.

So why did the govt need to create such a post when in fact NOBODY, certainly no one in the rest of the country had thought about it or deemed it necessary? The answer was of course because at that point in time LKY himself was toying with the idea of being the president, to leave the cabinet, so that his son can helm it as a fully fledged successor PM. I believe there was a lot of adverse reaction (yes, even then) to him becoming the president. He has already outlived his welcome even then, some 18-19 years ago! But knowing his character, he would have got himself into the EP office, come what may, if he had so decided that that would have been the best way to go. The fact that he didn't and he got OTC to be his 'proxy' could be put down to a couple of reasons - he is not sure of the outcome and wanted to watch how it would unfold or he realised that he had made a bumbling mistake declaring that the EP role is to ensure that the govt of the day don't use funds accumulated by previous govts -that is a foot in mouth situation since the practical side of it is almost impossible to achieved. One hint of this is the subsequent legislation, a telling travesty really of how badly he had fumbled, when he had to pass a law which allows money from the reserves to go directly to the other state entities, GLCs etc WITHOUT requiring the EP's prior knowledge or acquiescence. A sick joke, a parody, a making a monkey of the EP's role which HE promulgated!!!

So if Singaporeans are forever NITPICKING on the govt, I would say that they have EVERY reason to do so and are fully justified to take a cynical and skeptical view of its intention. And they are not wrong from the legions of mistakes, bad policies and bad moves we can all credit to an over the hill and moribund administration.

Epilogos said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am not aware of LKY's intentions when he proposed the EP. Your conjecture is plausible, but unproven, so I wouldn't base my analyses on it.

But I do agree that legislation and subsequent actions were probably surreptitiously taken to move Singaporean's hard earned money in the CPF into GLCs and the like.

That is why, more than ever, we need good people in Parliament who will question every decision and action of the government, who is willing to pore through the legal documents, reports and such to weed out questionable policy actions that are given short shrift in Parliament. I think the Workers' Party has started the ball rolling. Hopefully, they will deliver.

I think the public also now has an avenue through social media to give voice to their concerns. Only, people should argue on the facts, and stay clear of fantasy. Then the case can be strengthened and those people will gain the respect so very necessary in a highly educated populace.

Anonymous said...

Tan Cheng Bock has collected his forms already.