What DPM Teo is trying to tell us

In Political governance on 20/06/2011 at 7:53 am

DPM Teo (one of the few ministers I don’t begrudge getting millions in salary) says that electing a president is different from electing a MP, and Singaporeans should understand this before making their choice.

“When you’re electing an MP, you want somebody who’s active on the ground, working with residents and so on …The President, I think, has a different role to play. He needs to be measured, considered and, at the same time, also be a unifying factor on a higher level for all Singaporeans.” Article

Why doesn’t he come out and simply tell us that we shouldn’t treat the presidential election as another chance to show our dis-satisfaction with the ruling PAP? Sumething that we did in 1993, when Mr Chua Kim Yeow (a retired accountant-general) stood against Ong Teng Cheong. Despite being an unknown who didn’t campaign (he said he couldn’t afford it), he got 41% of the votes.

This was widely seen by S’poreans as a protest vote against the PAP who in GE1991 got 61% of the popular vote.

Since then the presidential elections have been walkovers, with only one eligible candidate standing.

This year may be different. One person who seems eligible is prepared to stand: Dr Tan Chin Bok. Another person who looks eligible, Tan Kin Lian has said, ,”If and when it [COE] is approved, I will decide if I wish to take part in the contest”.

Hence the coded message that DPM Teo is sending us: Don’t use the presidential election to show unhappiness with the PAP. And the attempts of Jayakumar and Shanmugam to put the role of the president in a cage.

But if there is an election, we, the voters, can vote to send a message to the PAP that we are still unhappy.

Thank you Mr “Hard Truths” for coming up with the role elected presidency. Although you didn’t intend it, the post has become a symbol that S’poreans can use to show that they are not happy with yr version of Utopia.

  1. Internet talk says that many ex-ministers and civil servants were approached and rebuffed. I suspect few would sacrifice themselves to be examined on the vicious altar of public opinion in the vain hope of getting a golden handshake and an easy job of cutting ribbon, etc.

    As for the prospective candidates, my perception of Dr. Tan is that he really has nothing to hide despite his years as a PAP MP. At least he showed he has his own mind and made Mr. Hard Truths stand up and answer questions in Parliament. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the current PAP backbench.

    As for Mr. Tan Kin Lian, I am surprised many on the Internet do not realise that he was not only a former member of the PAP, but that he was the branch secretary for Marine Parade – the next higher ranking member would be the MP himself. I can only say, he should come out and state this often and clearly before more people become aware. The court of Internet opinion is vicious and harsh.

    Then again, he has not made up his mind yet. Oh well.

    I suspect at the end of the day, the PAP will probably persuade Nathan to run against the other candidates.

  2. […] Recalcitrant: The Sophistry of Law Minister K. Shanmugam – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: What DPM Teo is trying to tell us – Thetwophilo’s Blog: The Elephants In Tony Tan’s Room [Thanks yl] – The Satay Club: YOU […]

  3. Do you really think that we need to use the Presidential election as a proxy for anger at PAP? Isn’t GE enough? And what’s the point of doing so when the elected President can’t speak up against the Govt, can’t demand answers from the Govt, can’t shoot down the Govt in a no-confidence motion, etc?

    Why advocate polarising the nation thru the Presidential election?

    I’d rather keep the President deaf and dumb and have another 30 opp MPs instead, so we can break PAP’s 2/3rd majority.

  4. DPM Teo’s message is Vote “Wisely”

  5. If TCB and TCL are eligible, I’m prepared to gun for the lesser of the 2 evils. At least one of them has the guts to represent those who were warned “should have invested with their eyes wide open” by the evil master .

    To me, this represent some intrinsic value that is so hard to find in a person nowadays.

  6. Yeah right, is vote “wiselee’s choice. No thanks! Like GY, Tony Tan should stay out of this race totally or it will stain his image & legacy, just as how MM Lee will end up. Besides, a man of his stature does not need the million dollars or title to enjoy the influence and clout he has. If ever SG is in crisis mode, the govt can always turn to this alumni for service and I’m sure TT will gladly come forward. But to do so in this present context, is a suicide end to his distinguished career as a former statesman. Amongst the widespread cynicism that voters have issue with is the Constitution and the restriction of the role itself. If DPM Teo still doesn’t “get it” he’s barking up the wrong tree. The people do “get it”. They just want a clear reform on the role as either (1) revert back to Constitution President or (2) reform the Elected President & accord the role true custodian and executive power pertaining to the areas surrounding the People’s reserves. Otherwise, you will have continued festering of the anger from the previous Presidential (OTC) and present one (SRN) that is clearly “unresolved”. I don’t know who on the side of govt is going to say “sorry” now, but I can tell you, words will not be sufficient this time. ACTION will!

  7. The elected president is never meant to be truly non parisan and above politics. If that is so, then the source of candidates would have come from a wide and diverse section of our society. Instead unabashed effort was made to make the party – backed candidates become the sole contender. One can be silent and still be partisan, all that is needed is allow chalestine drawdown of reserves, etc to takes place without raising any dissension and objection to the party which places him on the pedestal.

  8. I don’t see the coming EP as a proxy for anger at PAP. The electorate are smart enough to distinguish the difference between EP & GE. We’re into 18 years of the revised constitution and yet, it remains a polarising issue for voters due to the lack of visioning for a so-called “dignified” top job that pays $4.2m/year. People are still asking : Why are we doing this? or Does it really matter?”. Clearly after what Jaya, Shanmugam &Tommy have variously tried to do past weeks, the role remains uncompelling & unconvincing in its efficacy to carry out check/balances on a profligate government. Many bloggers have boldly stepped up & argue in favor of a “talking” not “stonewalling” President in light of the increasing call for transparency (specifically & more importantly on SG Reserves). As such, I don’t believe voters are polarising the issue just for the sake of taking it out on the incumbent Party, and that’s a big difference. The problem with putting someone like Tony Tan (despite his impeccable & respectable stature) will only serve to convey the message that everything will be status quo and opaque like before The sad truth is that SR Nathan chose to narrowly stick to the constitution after a long 12 years of silence did not help either. In fact, it is testing, or might I say, aggravating the nerves of the voters. So, if other MPs who choose to come forward to “justify” the constitution in the present narrow sense is merely another exposure of PAP’s weak sensemaking – ie unable to read the reality correctly. Field your choice candidates by all means. We’ll decide at the polls, or we’ll fester for another 6 years.

  9. The Presidential election boils down to one single issue – transparency and accountability of the country’s reserves. All these talks about President’s role and responsibilities are just another stonewall tactic by the PAP to maintain the status quo.

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