SINGAPORE: Former Workers’ Party Non-constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong weighed in quite a bit on this year’s presidential elections and over the weekend, issued what he says may be his final Facebook post on PE2023.
Singaporeans trooped to the polls last Friday (Sept 1) and elected former Deputy Prime Minster Tharman Shanmugaratnam by an overwhelming majority, giving him over 70 per cent of the vote. Mr Yee wrote, “The win was expected but the margin is astounding. Getting 70% of the votes meant that he has gotten nearly all the middle ground votes, quite a difficult thing in today’s political climate.”
He noted that Mr Tharman could have faced “the burden of protest votes against the establishment from the middle ground in a contest with far lower stakes than a GE, but it hardly happened.”
Additionally, the election came on the heels of a string of controversies involving high-level officials from the People’s Action Party, but this barely affected the election’s outcome. And while Mr Yee acknowledged the “creditable efforts” of the two other candidates, he underlined that they were up against a powerful figure.
“Tharman is simply, Tharman. Unstoppable, untouchable, just simply popular. It is hard to replicate. It is almost like watching a new Marvel superhero character being introduced. His competitors basically split the opposition votes and drew few support from the middle ground. All the scandals and protests aimed at the establishment for its perceived manipulation of the institution just got deflected like dirt on Teflon. Nothing sticks. Race did not matter at all, despite us being told for decades that we needed reserved PEs and the GRC system to ensure that minorities can be popularly elected.”
Mr Yee then mentioned the oft-quoted maxim that great powers come great responsibility, but in Mr Tharman’s case and given the nature of the presidency in Singapore, “With great expectations come great responsibilities.”
He noted that the former DPM “promised to redefine the character to the presidency, which was the motivation for him to enter the race. He had also promised independence in thinking.”
Based on his own interactions with him during Mr Yee’s time as an NCMP, he wrote that Mr Tharman “had always acted graciously and generously.”
Mr Yee ended his post by writing that the institution of the elected president in Singapore “does need a breath of fresh air after 30 years of perceived tight controls by the establishment.
With this sort of vote, he certainly has the mandate to redefine the EP beyond just the ceremonial, and he can certainly do it his way, and within the boundaries of the rules of the system.
All said, I still look forward to the day that we can revisit this institution and revert to other mechanisms for the second key to the reserves.” /TISG