by Gilbert Goh

The government seems to be hitting themselves a lot below the belt lately with the controversial Reserved Presidential Election (PE) – the latest being the guffaw created by Chan Chun Sing.

Its not difficult to see how the government has forced itself into a corner by having a Presidential Election that focused on race alone but is it all being deliberately done so that Singaporeans will focus on the wrong issue instead of the more crucial ones?

Many have speculated that the the Oxley Road saga involving the younger Lee siblings have caused much damage to the Prime Minister and his office. The news went virally international and have caused much embarrassment to the Lee Family particularly to the legacy of the late patriarch Lee Kuan Yew. The current debate on the Reserved PE has caused many of us to forget about the darker problem of our country – abuse of power from those with authority.

All the current problems we have right now have one deeper root – the tendency for our government to abuse their power as absolute power truly corrupts. Constitutions get changed flippantly without any referendum so that the government can have their way and they seem to always have the last say.

Of course, to top it all. no one will deny that the whole Reserved PE was created to deter one particular man from standing for election – Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

His possible defeat of any preferred candidate if he is contesting has caused the government to use whatever means it has to ensure that he will not be eligible to stand for election – even if a Indian is to be called a Malay. Many have thus speculated that our reserves must be in so much trouble that someone close to the government has to be the elected President and not from any other external third party.

More seriously, the use of race to divide and rule the country has caused us more damage than ever and even the ministers themselves have admitted that the whole PE saga has came with a political price as after all the President has no executive power and is more of a figure-head. Why get the whole country so beat-up over a non-essential position?

Or is the government trying to get some hidden consensus from the people when they next determine who will be the Prime Minister? Can a non-Chinese hold the position? If the people can accept a Malay President then surely they may be able to welcome a non-Chinese Prime Minister?

Law Minister K Shanmugam has also mentioned that the Malay community is crying out for a Malay head of state to look into the interest of the minority race. Though we all tend to see the propaganda side of his speech but there may be some truth in it – at least the livelihood part as truly many Malays are really struggling to catch up with the current high cost of living.

80% of our aid went to the Malay community, so far though we don’t let race deters us from helping anyone who is genuinely in need. Many of them are trying to stay afloat and the stringent welfare considerations of the government means that many will slip through the gap forcing them to seek alternative independent support agencies.

If Mdm Halimah or whoever is elected will truly take special interest in this minority-race community, I find that given all the controversy and contention that have surrounded this PE, there may be some silver lining in the whole saga.

Nevertheless, having say all that, personally my stand is still for the country to progress as one people without letting race comes in the way. If we allow race to dictate who can be the President or Prime Minister then we have truly regress as a nation and the past five decades of nation-building have all gone down the drain.

My personal choice is still Dr Tan Cheng Bock for President…and I will be spoiling my vote as a sign of protest against this racist PE.

This post was first published at Gilbert Goh’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.

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