Mdm Halimah Yacob arriving at the Election Department (Photo by Channel News Asia)

Thoughts on the Unelected President of Singapore

by Teo Soh Lung

My bet on the Reserved Presidential Election has from the beginning been a “no election”. This outcome has nothing to do with the qualifications of candidates. It has everything to do with the nature of the People’s Action Party.

The PAP is basically a party of politicians without courage. They do not take risks. They calculate to the minutest and most ridiculous detail of how to win this election – making it a “reserved presidential election” and increasing the financial requirement to S$500 million for contestants. But despite all the calculations (or rather miscalculations), they lacked the confidence of winning the contest. They may still have Madam Halimah Yacob as the president if the contest proceeded, but the majority will be as slim as that of Tony Tan.

The PAP have never been noted for its courage. Indeed, it has none being used to bulldoze people and institutions. It wins most times by brute force and endless tweaking and enactment of new laws.

How will Madam President face the world? An unelected elected president? People are already tweeting “#NotMyPresident”.

Can Her Excellency succeed in unifying Singaporeans despite her carefully crafted words to the press that “One of the main focus and function of the elected president is to act as a unifying force. Obviously, there’s work that I have to do, but…I would like to invite Singaporeans to work together with me, so that we can work together for a united Singapore and a much stronger Singapore.”

Singaporeans should not be angry with Madam President. Indeed we should be sympathetic to her. I know that some of my friends will accuse me for having a soft spot for her. And indeed, I admit, I like her as a person for she is unlike so many PAP hardcores. My friends will tell me that she had a choice of not standing for election. That is true. But honestly, how many of us have the guts to stand up for what we believe in and be sent to oblivion? Even Aung San Suu Kyi failed the test.

Madam Halimah will be our president for the next six years. Will she have the chance to serve another term or will she fade away like all former presidents? Will the elected presidency be scrapped even before the end of her presidency? Changing the status of the president has occurred before. Wee Kim Wee became an elected president before the end of his term.

If the PAP have the courage to make changes for the good of Singaporeans and not just the PAP, it must seriously think of reverting to our good old days of nominated presidency or even turn Singapore into a real republic. We don’t need a figurehead. Forget about having a fictitious second key to control our reserves. The reserves belong to the people of Singapore and not the PAP.