Friday, June 10, 2011

Jayakumar's Reality Check

Go on, make my day!
He may be officially out of office, but former Senior Minister Jayakumar seems to be punching above his weight to knock some sense into the free spirited contenders scrambling for the presidential prize. And he's outfitted for the task too, resplendent in his stylish kendogi (剣道着) and armed with a threatening shinai (four-part bamboo sword). Roller blading with his daughter was too just too lame an image for a former Law Minister.

"President is not a separate political centre" was the warning shot across the bow. Jayakumar said he was surprised and disappointed over some of the statements and claims made by would be candidates and what they intend to do if they were selected for the plum job at the Istana. If these guys even imagined the post was "distinct from the government" and carries "certain executive powers", he was quick to clear their freaking minds. Jayakumar's reality check about the discretionary custodial powers of the office was a rude reminder of the limitations that frustrated Ong Teng Cheong to no end:
  • The protection of reserves (don't bother about asking what it is)
  • Key public sector appointments (just sign on the dotted line)
  • Internal Security Act detentions (weapon of choice)
  • Investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (careful here, PM can refuse the go ahead for Head of CPIB to investigate top politicians)
  • Restraining order under Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act ("christians are less likely to riot", remember?)
In all other areas, he added for effect, "the president, under the Constitution, must act on the advice of the Cabinet." He need not be a Pinnochio (the nose would grow too long and unwieldy, what with all the tall stories emanating from high office), but he better acknowledge quickly who will be pulling the strings.

But why is the man who has stepped down from office reading the riot act? Does he, like Wong Kan Seng and Mah Bow Tan, still have the Gurkhas providing 24/7 security for their private homes at taxpayers' expense? One reader highlighted that the PMO's directory shows that both Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong still have Principal Private Secretaries and Press Secretaries at their beck and call! When does a former PAP minister actually stand down?



    I thought article 22 gives the President power to CPIB to investigate high officials even without the PM consent/approval. IF that's not the case, then what's the point for check/balance? In fact, what's the point for this puppet role? So far they have been pretty good at setting up barriers for "external" questionable" candidates. What about the possibility of inside job? Do they seriously think this will never ever happen in the remotest of history? Far better that we come up with a robust information act & more transparency, and have citizen hold our Politician's accountable, than to pay them millions to ensure they are corrupt-free. We have been doing a pretty good job in highlighting and calling out on some bad policies and behavior by politicians/civil servants than they want to call out one of their kind.

  2. Who is he now, by the way ? Is he the self appointed official guardian against misbehaving future Presidents ? And the irony is why did he see it fit for him to overstep his role (whatever his official role might be) to warn presidential candidates while at the same time telling us that the President himself/herself should not overstep theirs ?

    And by reminding us of the President's limited responsibilities, is he in fact admitting now that the Presidential's role is just a ceremonial figurehead ?

    But if that is so, why pay so much for a such a ceremonial figurehead ? Paying them so much that its better they keep their mouth shut? Is there something fishy behind all these that we do not yet know ? Again so many unanswered questions from our PAP govt.

  3. Give us back our Gurkhas!

    Give us back our Principal Private Secretaries!

  4. To Anon at 10.37

    You forgot Press Secretaries (and their own respective Personal Assistants). The cost of the PPS, PA to PPS, Press Sec, PA to Press Sec, Gurkhas, must be over $2 million a year easily.

  5. Daft Singaporeans should wake up after 50 years of obscurantist policy (愚民政策). EP is just like other constitutional amendments e.g. GRC, NCMP, NMP, OSA, etc designed to perpetuate PAP's rule. It is the interest of PAP above that of the country. It is not sustainable as a nation. Singapore will not survive given a government without accountability and transparency. The Singapore model will fail when economy is not doing well (from the peasants' prospective and not from the elites') and peasants' (especially those middle class population's) education and political awareness are improved. PAP will find it hard to implement obscurantist policy now and in future.

    If EP does not have the power to question the government on reserve and other top level matters, what is the point of having EP? It is therefore confirmed that EP is another obscurantist policy like the GRC, etc. It will backfire on PAP, the inventor. Do you think PAP will dare to amend or reverse this constitutional amendment? If PAP does, it just confirms it is an obscurantist policy and implement for the good of PAP party and not for the country. Then, GE2016 will seal the faith of PAP.

    I predict PAP will try on the implementation path (i.e. limiting choice of candidates, walkover, etc) to ensure a pro-PAP president is elected so that the new EP will be like the current one drawing $4m but doing nothing. A real EP will give shit to PAP government that PAP will surely does not want to see, especially the present ground is not that sweet for PAP.

    Singaporeans should reject any pro-PAP, ex-PAP and PAP-related EP candidate to insist on check and balance, accountable and transparent government. Till today, ask yourself: Is the government (the servant) now complete accountable and transparent to its people (the master) after GE2011?

  6. Jaya showed the usual PAP-Arrogance and contempt of everyone else outside the PAP-circle. How sad for Singapore.

  7. going by what has happened, the president's post has been quite a lot of help in raising ministers' salaries. everytime his goes up, theirs follows. and since no one protests over raising his salary, it seems logical that no one protests over the ministers' raises.

    in this area, i have this vision of the president providing the friendly advance party/cover, to distract the other side/enemy. and while he distracts, the troops move quietly forward behind him.

  8. Do Bush or Clinton go around telling candidates what they should or should not do if elected as president after they left office?
    MIWs, even after leaving office or on death bed seem to have the right to do that.
    Did't he think the current field would have known what the job scope and limitations of the Presidency is?

  9. Look very rich and very proud man.

  10. Once again, PAP is peeing in their collective pants knowing they may not be able to install their stooge in the land's highest office.

    Let us follow the stirling example shown by Aljunied residents and vote in somebody who can really check the accounts of the PAP government. I will bet with my last property that there are some interesting skeletons in the closet!

  11. If I got it right, Jayakumar is more inclined to support GohCT and his 'reality check' is food for thought to Sporeans who want a more effective EP...lobby the PM on the constitution?

    ps: I don't recall Goh and Jaya being directly involved in GIC and Temasek. Both have retired from the cabinet and Jaya has shown no interest to be an EP.

  12. I am of the view that while there are certain restrictions in the presidential role, the key ones and of most interest to people is in the accountability & guarding of reserves. An assertive President can still validly question and engage the relevant GIC/Temasek and openly share important information with the people. HE can still act within the constitution, and I do NOT believe that there's a gag order (no doubt that would have been the wishes of the ruling party).

    I'm not about to pay $4m to Mr Nathan who wants to do his work "quietly". And worse still, he expects taxpayers to come up with more money to buy his memoir so that we can find out about his job performance! He should just go and work in a library instead.

  13. Why the hell Singaporeans need a jet setting, globe trotting president gallivanting the World when we have a Ministry Of Foreign Affairs to do international relation is really, really beyond me.
    What has the Sin President done for Singaporeans?
    Nothing is the Answer.
    He dined and wined overseas and he dines and wines in Sin, attending dinners, opening ceremonies and all the happy moments of get together with dignities and celebrities.
    So, why the hell do we need a president for???


  14. Jaya should tell us why was the EP diluted after the first EP?

  15. why so desperate to kick out non PAP candidate? have something to hide?