Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Selecting A New President

During GE 2011, someone wanted to know how to intentionally cast a spoilt vote. The lady apparently found the responsibility too onerous, and belonging to a different constituency, she was not even affected by the "emotional dilemma" at Aljunied. The election for a new president is a different ball game. It's all about the money.

A is an ex-MP ("stepped down" before GE 2006) and former PAP member who junked his membership card. We are now told latter action was part of the preparation for the presidential race. He started blogging recently to sell his story, which conveniently skips mention of his publicly declared support of the controversial Operation Spectrum while he was in parliament and part and parcel of the groupthink. 22 young Roman Catholic church and social activists were detained without trial, Singaporeans which were later deemed "do gooders" by the prime minister. Most former MPs enjoy a healthy pension and string of directorships to help pay the bills.

B is an insurance executive who retired in 2007. He got some friends to collect the presidential election forms because he was "too busy", and now his wife is supposed to be the reluctant one. In 2008, he said he would run for the election if 100,000 Singaporeans endorsed an online petition of support. He ended up with something like 1,200 signatures. Two very good journalist friends of his apparently called him a "megalomaniac" for the shameless way he made himself the face of his organisation when he was top dog, and detractors once created numerous copies of a fake obituary of him and flung them from the roof-top of a building.

C was publicly voted out of office, and 1 month later, still failing to clinch any lucrative private sector job offer, despite embarrassing accolades that rank him the best thing to have happened since sliced bread. He is still a card carrying member of the PAP. He started tongues wagging with the Facebook posting: "Thinking hard about it and praying for wisdom". This was a curious U-turn from an earlier declaration about not being "temperamentally suited for such a job". Young Lien We King, who was deputed to collect the forms on his behalf, said of his hero: "He probably is, er, free spirited in the way that, er, in that he is very open, er, and he is very open to learning, very open to new ideas and very open to meeting new people, and that is refreshing for my generation and even for my parent's generation." He is also the sensitive guy who said ‘The Last Temptations of Christ’ was allowed to be sold in Singapore and not ‘The Satanic Verses’ because "Christians are less likely to riot."

The common denominator in all three above is that none have drawn a $4 million paycheck in their life time. Heck, they don't even have a full-time day job to speak of. This may be the odd occasion when we want to vote for the "official" PAP candidate, whoever he or she is. After all, the post is just window dressing, right?
Should groupies decide who the next president will be?


  1. Hi

    This is a bit off topic, but I thought that you and your many readers may be interested to know that in spite of the fact that both LKY and GCT are supposed to have left office, the PMO's directory shows that LKY and GCT both still have Principal Private Secratries (and their PPSs have Personal Assistants) and Press Secretaries (and the Press Secretaries also have their own Personal Assistants!), etc serving them. This must be at tremendous cost to the tax payer, unless both LKY and GCT are personally paying for these staff. Check out http://www.sgdi.gov.sg/ under Ministries/ Prime Minister's Office.

    Seems like nothing has changed at all, and taxpayers money is still being squandered by the MIW.

  2. The reasoning behind the EP as an extra key to the nations reserves was never convincing. To this day, this innovation in our constitution remains a puzzle. Could there have been another reason?

    The potential of embarrassing face offs and squabbles between an independant minded president and the government of the day cannot be dismissed. We got a whiff of it during Ong Teng Cheong's tenure. And he was a solid PAP person!

  3. "..embarrassing face offs and squabbles" are part and parcel of a transparent and accountable democratic political system.

    "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
    They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
    This struggle may be a moral one;
    or it may be a physical one;
    or it may be both moral and physical;
    but it must be a struggle.
    Power concedes nothing without a demand.
    It never did and it never will."
    -- Frederick Douglass

  4. Well said. The first 2 had already been making preparations for the EP, I highly suspect their "noble" intentions or their ability to take up this post. The last one is just probably some strategic planning by the MIWs to counter any unexpected contest. In any case the EP post is just a puppet post. Like they always say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Whoever we get, they are all devils.

  5. The biggest joke is the qualification criteria and the screening and approval by the (PAP) committee almost guarantee that you will pick one of their men.

    "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." - Henry Ford

  6. S$4M+ x 6yrs = S$24M+ for 1 term and maybe possibly S$48M+ for 2 terms so long as none of those in power is ever offended. If not, no state funeral.

    I just wonder how many people will be contributing to these amount of taxes for someone to attend opening ceremonies for TV stars, charity shows, etc.

    At least one of them played his part by asking some relevent questions including playing the piano. Why our current one no questions to ask at all and some more we have to increase his salary ?

    Our elected President post is now looking like a joke ?

  7. B was also a PAP card-carrying member for 30 years, and resigned only in 2007 or thereabout. Wonder why the PAP did not field him in any of the GEs.

    Looks like we have real Hobson's choices here.

  8. Agree with 10:04. It is totally a farce! Why do taxpayers have to fork out $24m for someone who hardly do any brain works, or make any impact or life differences? Does he even know what he's guarding? With LKY now as senior advisor, LHL now is chairman & HC is temasek, give me a PResident who dares to challenge this holy trinity trio & I will pay him his $48m! Otherwise, get out of our peasant, unwilling face.

  9. We are not choosing between "the lesser of two evils" at all here. Rather, we are all choosing between the lesser of three weevils.....In countries like Canada, you can have a constitution in parliament which is like this: a minority conservative premier, a majority liberal party, and things get run without any real problems and with a balanced parliament. But this won't happen here because of the criterion for selection. Having had the experience of running a 10million enterprise is really like saying that the country is a big mega-enterprise which requires executive direction.

  10. The criteria to stand for election as the President of the people and for the people of Singapore is so discriminatory it invalidates the national pledge

  11. At least those contesting need to work and sweat in their campaign for your votes this time round .
    Compare to the incumbent who has his job handed to him on a platter for 2 terms by virtually disqualifying and dissuading all others in the running

  12. Well, the news just reported Tan Kin Lian saying that he would demand for greater transparency about the reserves if he is elected, so that citizens would be more assured about these in relation to issues like retirement and CPF and so on. I am not sure what that amounts to, whether we can trust that it will ever happen. The next thing is, what will we do as part of the electorate from now with all these various suggestions flying here and there and not knowing if they are ever going to be implemented?

  13. What is the PM's position on the reserve transparency? If he is truly his own man, he should propose and implement it now.

  14. Dont be surprised if the party in power decide to change the constitution and restore the presidency as an appointment.

  15. Jim Goh. I disagree.

    PAP would risk total defeat in GE2016 if it continues to abuse the constitutional amendment to advantage itself. Today it is a different world. PAP has invented all those unfair constitutional amendments, e.g. GRC, EP, NMP, NCMP, etc without thinking that all these will backfire oneday because simply these are not fair amendments. If these are fair amendments, there would not be such thing as backfire.

    This is what Chinese says: 騎虎難下 (difficult to alight after riding the tiger).

  16. Anonymous (June 7, 2011 11:39 AM): We are not choosing between "the lesser of two evils" at all here. Rather, we are all choosing between the lesser of three weevils.....

    LOL !! Sigh ... in the end, it's all wayang dan wayang dan wayang lagi. Since it all again boils down to choosing between 5 weevils born & bred from the same basket, I would rather not choose any.

  17. The joke used to be that most of the failed states are in the Tan family - PakisTAN, AfghanisTAN, KhazhasTAN, UbekisTAN, etc.

    Now, this coming Presidential Election looks like going to be a Tan family affair as well:
    TAN Cheng Bock, TAN Kin Lian, Tony TAN, Mah Bow TAN and S R Nah TAN.

    Seriously, I do not think Dr Tony Tan is in the running. If you analyze his words carefully, he seems to be sending up the trial balloon for the real contender. He said that during the uncertain economic times ahead, the President Elect should have a steady hand and must be able to understanding the complexities of the decisions the President will have to make.

    Now, who fits those bills? You got it - LKY and GCT. But who has got the firmest hands? LKY, of course.

    Personally, I think it would be good for Singapore if LKY can be elected as President. And he will garner tremendous goodwill and support if he cuts the president's pay to $1, a la Lee Iacocca.

  18. somewhat like the North Korean elections. Compulsory to vote as well. What a farce!