By: Andrew Loh
Of all our presidents, I remember Wee Kim Wee the fondest. Maybe that is because he looked a little like my late father.
In my mind, Wee Kim Wee was a great president. I remember seeing him on tv and thinking, “What a gentle soul.” Always with a smile, and as I recall, he lent his presence and name to many charitable works during his 8 years as head of state.
And the fact that he chose to be buried among the common people at the Mandai Crematorium, says it all.
A president is more than a CEO, more than someone who can handle $100 million, or even $1 billion. He is more than just another run-of-the-mill elite, picked from an exclusive group.
For me, a president is someone who is able to stand above everyone and everything else, especially petty politics of the politicians and the political parties.
President Wee was such a person.
It is thus a shame that even if we ever have another Wee Kim Wee, he will never be deemed qualified to be our president, under current laws and under the expected changes to the law.
It is a shame because it seems we have lost sight of what really the president is, and what the presidency means.
He has become nothing more than a watchdog, relegated to guarding at the threshold, like an outpost looking out for trouble, and expected to bark when trouble comes.
It is such a shame how we have stripped the presidency of all nobility.
We do not need another aristocrat picked from among the elite.
We need another humble, inspiring man like Wee Kim Wee. And such a man can come from anywhere, even among the ordinary.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that only someone with some nebulous “financial expertise” or knowledge is qualified to be president.
In fact, it is precisely such illusions which is now threatening to destroy all that the presidency is supposed to be.