Prominent radio personality Hamish Brown has questioned if Presidential hopeful Halimah Yacob is as indeed independently-minded as she has claimed in a newspaper interview. In an interview with The New Paper Madam Halimah illustrated an incident where she abstained from voting on an issue after the Whip was listed, to make a point that she not always followed the directions of her political party elders in the People’s Action Party.
“An occasion she remembered clearly was when she abstained from voting on amendments to the Human Organ Transplant Act in Parliament in 2007. Changes tabled by then Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan would allow organ recipients to reimburse donors’ expenses if they wished. She was concerned that this would lead to poor people being persuaded to “sell” their organs. The party whip was lifted, and she abstained, sending a strong signal of her misgivings. She recalled: “I decided not to say yes. I didn’t ask the Health Minister how he felt, but I can still remember the expression on his face.””
Writing in his Facebook Mr Brown said, abstaining from voting doesn’t send a signal that she agrees or disagrees. That Madam Halimah’s decision only showed that her position was a non-committal one.
“…but abstaining from voting during the Human Organ Transplant Act parliamentary sitting doesn’t show that you do not toe with the party line, it only shows that between standing with voters who agree and voters who don’t, your action was neither, rather your decided course of action was to abstain from voting altogether, an act that really means, I prefer not to stand for either option and just be a fence sitter (so if the proverbial s@&/,! Hit the fan, you would go on record as not having been party to it either way) that’s what abstaining from taking a stand or voting means.”
Mr Brown further suggested that meritocracy as it is practiced in Singapore, went out the window as soon as this presidential election was reserved for one particular ethnic race over all others.