By Offbeat Perspectives
Like Halimah Yacob, President S.R. Nathan himself also was a walkover candidate. He was so for 2 consecutive terms. Like how 2 other candidates did not meet the PE2017 criteria for eligibility, 2 candidates were also found constitutionally ineligible in S.R. Nathan’s first uncontested election in 1999, while 3 other candidates were rejected based on constitutional criteria in S.R. Nathan’s second uncontested election in 2005.
Q1) For those who are solely upset because they have lost the democratic right to vote for PE2017 (without focusing on the bigger underlying issues), did you feel the same way and make a big hoo ha when S.R. Nathan was elected as president for a total of 12 years for 2 consecutive term without any voting? Or did you stay silent? (Why the double standard?)
Q2) For those who solely question whether Halimah’s true identity is a Malay or Indian (without focusing on the bigger underlying issues), and hence, also question whether she is eligible to be even considered a Malay candidate to join this reserved election – you already know she’s a half-malay and half-indian. Did she ever denounce and say that she is not indian, NO she did not. So you are saying that candidates who are born to inter-racial couples e.g. one parent is Malay while another is Indian – cannot join this reserved election?
Even when the presidential election was opened to all races in 1999 and 2005, there were already 2 terms of walkovers. It’s not surprising as such statistically that with a smaller pool of eligible candidates with this reserved election for only one racial community, that would be a higher chance of a walkover.
If you complain that we still do not have a Malay Prime Minister after so many years, but you also complain when we have a Malay President, isn’t that quite ironic? There might have to be a small trade-off between meritocracy and multiculturalism in Singapore with a majority 74.3% chinese population. Because the chances of votes given to a majority-race candidate, and the chance of a majority-race candidate being elected would be higher if between both a Chinese and non-minority were contesting. For PE 2017 even though it is reserved only for the Malay race, it was clearly stated that the criteria set for the candidates are strictly the same as any other candidates if PE2017 were to be opened to any race.
The bigger issues we should be focusing on is 1) whether the constitutional laws for the e.g. Presidential election, Presidential roles, Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA) are tweaked to 1a) suit PAP’s agenda or their preferred choice of candidates like S.R. Nathan, Tony Tan, and Halimah Yacob 1b) the reduction of powers of the president through the increase of powers towards the CPA and cabinet which might lead to reduced check-and-balances on the cabinet 2) the lack of education and clarity by the state on the full roles of the president and the stated laws which not only common citizens, but even PE candidates might not be clear about themselves. Presidents play an important custodial and constitutional role too, but Singaporeans always have this mindset that they only play a purely ceremonial role.
Example below on EITHER the already presently reduced powers, OR suggestions towards the possible further reduction of powers of the president’s constitutional role:
“Non-discretionary powers of the President refer to matters in which the President has no discretion and must act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a Minister. For example, the President must act in accordance with the Cabinet’s advice regarding the pardon of a person convicted of an offence. The President must also act in accordance with the Prime Minister’s advice on the appointment of Ministers.”
– “Parliament may override the President’s veto of Supply and Supplementary Bills, as well as the appointment or removal of the heads of key institutions that hold significant amounts of the nation’s fiscal assets.”
– If the Council is evenly split, but its Chairman exercises his casting vote in the President’s favour, the Commission proposed that Parliament may override the veto if it acts by a two-thirds majority. Finally, if the President’s veto does not get the majority support of the CPA, Parliament can override it with a simple majority.”
And another example would be an article I did up on Article 151a: