When TKL talks abt being the “VOICE of the PEOPLE to carry their views, concerns and aspirations to the Government”, we now know what he means. He will issue a statement on a topical issue, like this statement on public transport fares.
He publicly called on the transport minister Lui Tuck Yew and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to “take urgent steps to revamp the public transport system in Singapore by increasing the capacity and encouraging more effective competition among the public transport operators” and to give “urgent consideration” to his earlier proposals, including greater regulation.
As to the bit: “Apply my knowledge and expertise to SAFEGUARD their CPF savings and the RESERVES of Singapore”, he will do what he did here, issue a statement querying the S$10.9bn loss at MAS, and then issue this
He certainly is showing that he is: “INDEPENDENT of the PAP government”. But on “work[ing] with it to find solutions that are best for the people”, I have my doubts.
His very public posturing on “hot” topics comes across as indicating that he believes that the presidency is a “separate political centre” that operates as a check on the cabinet. It’s the in-house Opposition, as opposed to the parliamentary Opposition. TKL has specifically denied that he views the presidency as “a separate political centre”: “I accept that the President’s office is NOT a separate political centre and does not have any executive power.”
But methinks the very public statements (couched in very populist language) on public tpt, the loss at MAS, and the issue of the reserves and the CPF, speak louder than his protestations abt his understanding of the powers of the presidency. His statements imply that the presidency is a bully pulpit for him to articulate the “people’s” views, “The elected president can play a useful role in being an additional channel for the people to bring legitimate issues to the attention of the Government”.
US presidents routinely use the presidency as a bully pulpit. Note the US president has executive powers and is a “separate political centre”, and the use of the presidency as a bully pulpit is a natural development of his powers and role as a “separate political centre”.
TKL’s attempts to straddle the PAP’s views of the role of the presidency and the even more activist role championed by Goh Meng Seng, his adviser, and the anonymous voices on the internet seems flakey by comparison to Tan Jee Say’s more robust views, ”the office of President is what the President makes it out to be. He can be as quiet and inactive as he chooses to be. Or he can be active. I want to be an active President, engaging the nation on issues of conscience and promoting worthy causes”.
In short, TKL’s manifesto is rojak. If voters want rojak, that’s fine with me (BTW I like rojak as a dish). But they should know it is rojak and not “mee siam with hum” or steak.