Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Elected Presidency - What Kind of President?

By now, most people who follow the news of the pending Presidential election closely would know my support for Mr. Tan Kin Lian to contest for Presidency.

My endorsement of Mr. Tan Kin Lian as President comes a long way but before I explain why I support Kin Lian, let me address some of the views which have been made by various people, including past and present Ministers on the role of the Elected Presidency.

The gist of the messages from the PAP ministers is that the Elected President has limited power and His Excellency could only act as the custodian of the reserves with some limited veto power. He cannot comment or influence the investment directions of any reserves, may not even question the accountability of various people and organizations who may make huge losses of the reserves they are in charge of. His role is only restricted to preventing the government of the day to spend the reserves when he deems fit.

One could easily see the biggest irony here. The President does not have the power to direct investment decisions nor extract accountability from those who are appointed to invest the reserves, when they make huge losses to the reserves. However, he has the power to prevent ELECTED GOVERNMENT of the day from spending the reserves!

As for the appointment of key appointment holders, the President must appoint key appointment holders ACCORDING to the advice of the Cabinet and the Presidential Council whose members are basically, appointed by the Cabinet. Interestingly, the PAP leaders have said several times that if there is a "rogue government" voted in, presumably not PAP, the President could help to prevent it from making various key appointment so to preserve the integrity of the system. This is in fact a contradictory motive and power distribution.

Basically it means, if PAP is in power, the President will have to listen to it and his power will be curbed. But the PAP has also planned for the day when it loses power, then it could make use of the President to curb the power of the "rogue government" or even cripples it totally. Why? This is because the President will be there to protect the PAP appointed individuals on the key positions from being removed by this "rogue government". Yes, this includes the Chairman of GIC.

This is the kind of system PAP has designed for Singapore; or rather, for its own self interests. PAP leaders have once said, if opposition is to form the government consecutively for two terms, Singapore will be finished. Actually what they meant was that for the first term, PAP could still try to cripple the rouge government but by the second term, this rogue government would have people who will be qualified to be President and the system would actually deprive PAP from making a come back to be the ruling party again. It is PAP which is going to be finished, to be exact.

This is really a kind of irony, really. It is just like the GRC system. It will be very advantageous to PAP as long as no opposition party is good enough to win any GRC. But once a GRC is lost, it will become the biggest nightmare to PAP's hegemony of power or it might become the beginning of the end of PAP's ruling status.

Similarly, the Elected Presidency will only be good as long as no "non-establishment" individual could win it. They may not be the cute little puppet that PAP wants him to be. PAP thought that as long it is in power, this will not happen. But the late President Ong Teng Cheong has proven to be too inconvenient for it to handle.

The incoherence of the Elected President system arises because of the conflicting aims of PAP's intention under different scenarios and situations. i.e. they just want to have the cake and eat it. By right, if the Elected President has so limited power, PAP should not be too concerned about losing the post to someone whom it may not endorse. However, PAP cannot disarm the power of the Elected President totally because it may end up compromising the original idea of using it as a means to cripple the rogue government. It is really a Catch 22 situation. Thus the best outcome is to continue to make sure that only the people PAP endorse will become the President.

Logically, as an opposition member, I should be opposing this Elected Presidency system. Any rules or system designed with the intention of protecting PAP's interests will have to be opposed.

However, I have second thought back in 2008. I would want to beat PAP at their own games with their own rules. I would rather to take this opportunity to turn this around so that some real checks and balances could start right now, via the Elected President.

PAP wanted a President who is preferably performing mostly ceremonial roles and not exercising any real influence or power of checks and balances on them. i.e. A President who will just sit there and not say anything which could embarrass the PAP. The President may have no real executive powers, but it doesn't mean that he could not make timely comments on issues which will affect the people in various ways. An Elected President should not be robbed of his voice, his freedom of speech with respect to the welfare of the people.

Thus, what kinds of people should we be looking for to be our President? I always tell people around me, we should not be looking for a SAINT to be our President. There is hardly any SAINT around here in Singapore, least one who could qualify as a Presidential candidate with such materialistic criteria and measures. Maybe we may have a monk or pastor or any other religious leaders who are saint-like but most probably they won't be CEO of some companies with $100 million paid up capital, least a politician.

We should be looking for a person who have an independent mind, FAIR, HONEST and most importantly has the moral courage to speak up for the people. The moral courage to stand up and question the government of the day if there are problems with the reserves or otherwise.

There are a lot of nice people around but nice people may not be the right people to perform the role of the Elected President.

Goh Meng Seng

P.S. I will write about why I find Mr. Tan Kin Lian the right person to be our President in my next post.


Anonymous said...

What an insightful commentary.

Thanks for tutoring the readers.

soong see choo said...

Power Is power; executive power is the result of custody power. Custody is the proverbial cart while executive the horse, The nation citizens(owner) decide the final weight(reserves-goods) in the cart and the direction the horse-executive-power should move.

Anonymous said...

You are so sure about TKL? You did not hear of his womanizing time in NTUC? and his cocky way of treating other people? he was then a dog licker of the PAP and not bite the hands that once fed him! he did not make the mark of the PAP and now..the opposing camp? com'on la...you all have agendas and liken said, 'u scratch my back and i will scratch yours..' do not act 'holier' than thou...the last results of your party speaks volume and if not of NICOLE SEAH, u shall sink very fast! do not shit with TKL...the 'mystery' of ladies that he molested shall surface on 'election day'!!@

Anonymous said...

The whole problem here is our system. Whether it is the PAP or Opposition government, the system must be able to stand on its own.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 11.11 AM.

PAP masters must have let you out of your leash to bark at Tan Kin Lian and Goh Meng Seng. Go back to your masters and lick their boots.

Anonymous said...

now i got your attention and u must be one of the loser in singapore who knows nothing more than complaining ya..
m a licker so?!!! but with hundred over of thousand money paid to me every month from all monopoly of my business with them...eat your heart out!

Anonymous said...

reading your post makes pleasure in knowing how stupid you people in Singapore could be! your politic is nothing more than child play especially with a party like yours!firstly after the election, you beg for money, in the name of donation and then NOW your intended 'President' beg for money! how pathetic!!imagine if everyone (public)official in Singapore begging for money?!Birds of the same feathers flock together ..and certainly Singapore need PAP MORE THAN EVER...u crook loosers and more shall be reading this blog...thanks to the cheeky and old man TAN KIN LIAN! anyway, once beg always a begger...we really PITY NICOLE SEAH!! BEGGING ON A MAN'S BEHALF...HOW PATHETIC!!

Anonymous said...

NOW u can see the power of the ruling govt! TONY TAN FOR PRESIDENT AND NSP, EAT YOUR HEART OUT MORE!!!TAN KIN LIAN...awaiting to see show down with u and Goh Meng Seng...still begging for money with TKL?

Anonymous said...

Goh Meng Seng and Tan Kin Lian. Both of you are a joke to Singapore. I will vote for Tony Tan for President!

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