SINGAPORE: A street interview of Singaporeans sharing their insights on the 2023 Presidential Elections has garnered attention online. When asked to share their two cents on the matter, Singaporeans who participated in a video by RICE Media had these things to say:
“To quote my friend, ‘The president is there to cut ribbons and go NDP,’ said one, while another admitted, “I’m not really sure what the president does.”
The video host reported that the nation will be heading to the polls to elect its next president. “Who will Singaporeans vote in as their president and how much do they genuinely care about this pivotal public role?” she asked.
One respondent admitted, “I’m only very familiar with Mr Tharman because he’s the MP over in Jurong. So we heard very good reports about him. If the president is able to influence other countries to invest in Singapore, of course, it’s good…I’m about 70 to 80 percent sure who I will want to vote for. It’s important that the president has a political background so that he’s able to represent Singapore in a global context.
“I think maybe the gist behind the qualifying criteria is to prevent corruption on the president’s side. It’s good to safeguard a lot of things. The candidates themselves are already aware of their liberties and if they cannot meet the requirements then it’s definitely fair lah. Because if Tharman meets all the requirements, then of course, he’s qualified.”
Another said, “I do not think that a president needs to have a political background or experience. I think they can attend public speaking lessons when they meet foreign dignitaries or diplomats…It would be great of the age could be lowered. One of the presidential candidates, I think it was Mr Ng Kok Song…at that age, you might be very tired physically, even though you are mentally bright.”
A third argued, “The president is supposed to be apolitical. You’re supposed to be an ambassador to the world, you’re supposed to have the financial knowledge to safeguard our reserves, but you’re not supposed to be affiliated with any political party.
The idea is that the president is supposed to be for the people. For me, S$500 million [as a qualifying criterion] is a bit too much. How can that someone be for the people if it’s limited to such a narrow elite?
I really do think that it’s important that Tharman gets a proper contest this year. I think it’s unfair that just by the sole virtue of him being a minister or politician, he gets a free pass. Yes, he was a finance minister but if you look at the current president Halimah, or even the president before that, Tony Tan, they had no financial background at all.”
Still, one respondent said, “To be honest, being a president is not a matter of power. If a country doesn’t have national reserves, it will always be in danger. The most important thing [the president] should do is to maintain Singapore’s self-reliance, economy, and development.
As for suggestions on what the next president could do, one singled out employment. “I think the president should focus on the employment aspect of my generation,” she said. “Nurses and teachers are getting paid so much less compared to someone in my position in the corporate world. But they are really shaping the future of our generation.”
Another cited individuality, saying, “For Gen Z’s, they are quite focused on individuality. So maybe the president can do something that would help them enhance that for themselves.”
A third suggested more initiatives to help the elderly, pointing out, “Some people my age do not know how to make friends. Even though you have welfare agencies, they also don’t really go to them. Maybe the government or president can think of some initiatives to help them.”
The 2023 Presidential Elections are set to be held on 1 Sept 2023.
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