On Monday, Minister at Prime Minister Office, Chan Chun Sing accidently referred to Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament as “Mdm President” twice in his addresses during the debate on Presidential Election (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, spurring laughs from the Members of Parliament.
Sure, it was funny to see the former general to quickly correct himself to address Mdm Halimah as Mdm Speaker while the whole Parliament was bursting in laughter, but it is not so when one consider the high possibility that she will be People’s Action Party (PAP)’s anointed candidate for the upcoming Presidential Election (PE).
Mr Chan in his answer to Ms Sylvia Lim’s questions of the need for the amendments of the Presidential Election and the immediate implementation of the changes, stated that the Government made changes to the Constitution not because there are immediate issues to address, but to make sure that sensitive issues related to race, language and religion do not arise in the first place.
Throughout Mr Chan’s speech in justification of the Presidential Election (Amendment) Bill, he has highlighted that the President should not be politicised and that the position should be a unifying figure.
Despite PAP’s attempts in explaining that the amendments to the Elected Presidency are well-justified based on the recommendations of the Constitution Commission, we all know and can see for ourselves that the changes have been carefully planned to be bulldozed through the general populace and Parliament. All just to block a non-PAP endorsed candidate, Dr Tan Cheng Bock from contesting in the upcoming election.
To those who say that PAP has no reason for going to such length, let us not forget back that in PE 2011, Dr Tan Cheng Bock nearly won the election from the PAP endorsed candidate, Dr Tony Tan, losing by a mere 0.34% after a recount of the polls. Before the recount, Dr Tan was winning by 0.36%.
Mdm Halimah as possible PAP’s endorsed candidate
Since the amendments to the PE via the passing of the Constitution of Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill in November 2016, names have been propped up in media on who will be the likely candidates for the upcoming PE.
For Singaporeans who have been attentive to the news and commentaries, they would have noticed a high concentration of articles pointing to the possibility that Mdm Halimah is a potential candidate.
Articles on Singapore politics in the Mainstream Media do not simply appear out of no reason. Think about it, it is February now and September will be the PE. Apart from Mdm Halimah, have there been other names from the establishment yet?
Given that the Malay community, in general, has expressed its displeasure over the reserved election as being tokenism and using their race as an excuse to bar Dr Tan Cheng Bock from contesting in the PE, Mdm Halimah is PAP’s most ideal candidate. For the party has no one else with that much respect and credibility with the community to dampen the impact of the risky political move.
What is not so funny then?
So since the public has, some way or another, accepted that Mdm Halimah would be the PAP endorsed candidate, what is the problem with Mr Chan’s “Freudian slip”?
Well, it is not the obvious methodology of how the PAP government used the pretence of racial sensitivity and national unity to push for a “no-TCB” legislation that is a cause for concern but how the Members of the Parliament reacted to Mr Chan’s slip up.
As this writer observed from the public gallery when Mr Chan made the wrong address, the majority of the PAP MPs did not take the matter to heart and simply laughed the matter off. A few other MPs such as Ms Lim, however, were not amused by Mr Chan’s address of the Speaker as Mdm President.
As mentioned above on the possibility of Mdm Halimah standing as a candidate, Mr Chan’s “Mdm President” should have struck a raw nerve with those who understand the implications.
Implications such as Mr Chan having prior knowledge of the plans to endorse Mdm Halimah as a PE candidate, which explains his sub-conscious association of the President with Mdm Halimah. After all, Mr Chan is one of the organising secretaries of PAP’s Central Executive Committee.
Do the PAP MPs feel that public accusation against its manipulation of laws for self-interest is nothing much to be concerned about or it does not matter at all even if it is publicly accepted since PAP MPs have already been voted in as the super-majority (81 seats) in Parliament. This is a serious thought about the MPs that comes to mind.
Public resource used to justify political agendas?
Should Mdm Halimah step up as a candidate in the upcoming PE, what would that say about Mr Chan’s presented position of the amendments to the PE and the real agenda of PAP in the introduction of the bills?
How non-politicized is the President Election when a pre-determined candidate has been set for an election that is rigged to exclude competitors from it?
Does that mean what the PAP leaders, such as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, have been saying all these justifications such as sensitivity for the minority races and fair representation, all for show and all the public resources that have been put into justifying the amendments of the PE have been squandered away by the ruling party for its political interest?
The part of the whole farce that I find it hardest to laugh about, is that the population would be either stupid enough to take the amendments as a testament to how the PAP cares for the minority races or being apathetic towards the politics of Singapore as to not do anything about the matter. Either way, one can only develop that much faith in the future of Singapore with a non-thinking or a disfranchised population.
Read: Amendments to the Elected Presidency, how PAP stop at nothing to avoid checks and balance on itself
Mr Chan corrected himself in the first address of Madam President but carried through the second mention as seen in the video below.