Criticisms of Elected Presidency persist despite explanations and justifications

In a Today report dated 15 September 2017, it is reported that despite the fact that it was the week of firsts for Singaporean to have the first reserved election which resulted in the city state’s first woman President and the first Malay Head of State in 47 years, criticism of the election process for the Elected Presidency (EP) has persisted online.

Madam Halimah Yacob, 63, was sworn in on 14 September as President. However, instead of revelling in her role on a historic occasion, she had to answer questions about how she was going to unite a country divided by her election.

The report noted that the biggest reason why the criticism arose was because Singaporeans were denied to vote as the government had disqualified two other potential candidates.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock (TCB), who ran a close second to Dr Tony Tan (TT) in the previous Presidential Election in 2011, had also commented on the issue, saying that Singaporeans felt “muzzled and angry” with the “disappointing walkover” as they found out the they had no chance to vote.

“Because when you take away our right to vote, you take away our political voice. You tell us that our choice does not matter,” the doctor said.

The hashtag #notmypresident went viral as many Singaporeans were using it on their posts.

Some netizens have also switched their social media profile pictures to a Singapore flag in gray-scale, with three of its five stars snuffed out, which stand for the Republic’s ideals of democracy, justice, peace, progress and equality.

Though the negativity were expected, some politicians and analysts told Today that they were surprised by the “ferocity”.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) announced that the Presidential Election in 2017 will be reserved for Malay candidates, based on the hiatus-triggered model during the second day of the Parliamentary debate on the proposed amendments to the Constitution on 8 November 2016.

TCB also commented on this, writing on his Facebook page that while Singaporeans may have expected Madam Halimah to win, they still “looked forward to a poll to tell the Government what we thought about the elections”.

Commenting on the story, netizens expressed their disappointment on how the election was held.

Johanes Pkmi wrote, “Ironic. We trusted PAP, but in turn they cannot trust us to choose our own President. Changing constitution, trading off our correct and Core value of meritocracy all the way to a walkover. If they think we are not Smart enough to make such choice, maybe they are correct. We chose the wrong one during last GE. We shall not Repeat such mistake in the next GE.”

Minsoon Lim wrote, “This farce is caused by a lack of foresight and planning.
The likes of LKY and GCT would have been able to install Mdm Halimah without these absurd messy parliamentary debates, constitutional amendments, court hearings and controversial process which has proven to be non-meritocratic and racially divisive.
Most importantly, Singaporeans are angry because the government is sending the signals to the people that they can do whatever they want ignoring the ground sentiment.
It all went wrong, because when one day they decided to call themselves top talents and paid themselves the highest salaries in the world.”

Michael Chia wrote, “Some comments in the article points to the what’s wrong but in the end still comes around to say she can do a good job. Come on why so diplomatic? Bad is bad and good is good. Please, do not say one thing then try to turn it around to sound good. All these analysts and professor of political sciences really are afraid of repercussions is it? Scare government would sack you from your job?”

Phua Koon Kee wrote, “Fair enough, Halimah is not the root cause. She’s a victim, albeit a willing victim … either attracted by the millions or too “Yes-woman” to say no to her boss. The real issue is the undemocratic election (non election) process, unfair criteria, racism, exclusivism and tokenism. The root cause is the arrogant government who wouldn’t be bothered about feedback from the ground. Ignore your electorates at your peril.”

Song Moh Chia wrote, “Actually no one is against her being the President, it is the way criteria and conditions are set to prevent other candidates from participating. Don’t forget when PAP won the election in the 60s, there were barber, trishaw rider and even carpenter!”

Barry Loy wrote, “Actually if she can be the president, anybody can be the president right? This is basically game rules set by gamers and winning their own game. What’s GCT talking about Singaporeans helping her succeed? So if she succeeds, what’s in for us as her fat pay package is in for her?”

Leon Khor wrote, “One key point not emphasized enough is that EP criteria is seen to have been manipulated. Why does a candidate from the private sector have to meet $500 million equity criteria when many candidates from the political sphere can’t even meet this.”

Outback wrote, “You really have to go back to the source that put together such unfair structure for the presidency. People hate unfairness, this is quite clear.”

Tkl Tango wrote, “Controlled news waste our time reading, stop publishing, stop trying as it’ll do more worst. You guys deserve #%^*! Something is fishy with Singapore reserve $$$?”

Barry Smyth wrote, “How can you ask what went wrong? Are you completely and utterly blind or just lack any ounce of journalistic integrity? It was a racist presidential election, not reserved. The primary qualification for nomination was race (the VERY definition of racism), and the primary qualification for race was religion. This election trashed everything that Singapore stands for. While time will tell if our new president is up to the task, the process that took her to office was a complete farce from start to finish and an insult to the intelligence of every Singaporean. And you ask what went wrong?
Here’s what went wrong, the government treated people like idiots, the media sided with the government’s views rather than denouncing this farce, the ministers stayed silent on the issue or openly supported it, totally letting the people of Singapore down with some calling it a controversial election only afterwards. This was the death of democracy and the death of the national pledge, and you ask what went wrong? It has shown this government for what it really is to the world the stage, and I will be voting timeforchange in the next general election because this was the last straw.”

Qi Yong wrote, “Where did it go wrong? Some minister joked about “Madam President” 6 months before election. Oh and he’s on his path to be the next PM.
I don’t know what’s wrong as well.”

Ronald Toh wrote, “When it comes to next GE, the government will dangle a big carrot, soon everything will be forgotten. Even before non elected president issue, many have already forgotten about the 30% hike in water bill. PAP will still do very well in the next GE, thereafter increase GST to 10%. They have known very well Singaporeans are only good at complaining and soon after get on with their normal life. We have been through many similar cycles over the years. Nothing will ever change.”

Keen Fei Tang wrote, “If the President does not even have the right to know how much (and compositions) we have in the reserves, really can’t understand the necessity on the requirement of experience being the head of an organization with $500 million to qualify to be President Of Singapore. So long as candidate has proven kindness and admirable community background, he/she should be permitted the chance to be nominated for election to this highest office – irrespective of race, language or religion.”

Mick Js wrote, “The problem is not just about the reserved election. It is about why an all out attempt was made to put one of their own kind in the seat.
What fear do they have in having a probing President like OTC in the seat. What are they covering up and what advantage are they hoping to gain with a puppet in the seat?
It is obvious something big is being kept away from us and all attempts are made to keep it that way from changing of the constitution by limiting powers of an elected president and selecting a puppet as a President.
Moreover the theatrics in this article pretends to show the unhappiness of the people in the selection process and yet it upholds the actions of ruling that a capable person is in place. Now that is the reason why the paper has failed to get support for its circulation and will soon cease. Because, end of the day, it is still a component of the propaganda machinery.”

Mabelene Lin wrote, “We respect that our president is a lady. And we respect is a Malay or whatever roots. But the ground sentiment, this is not a fair election as the voters didn’t have a right to vote. It was a plain walkover because the other Malay applications were void. Might as well just dictate who the next groomed person will be as the next pic. No need to go through all this trouble for public broadcast.”

Jasmine Lim wrote, “What went wrong? Looks like a act to prevent TCB from becoming President and ‘reserved’ for the Malay race is just a act for cover up. Do not forget TCB lost to TT by only 0.33% and can be worry for LHL. What if TCB lifted the accounts of National Reserves for the past 15-20 years? What if TCB becomes a vocal President?”

Au Kah Kay wrote, “If financial safeness and the ability to handle large amounts of money is an important criterion necessitating the $500 million qualifying bar for private sector candidates, the irony is that this criterion is not required of candidates from the public sector. It implies that public sector candidates, by virtue of their seniority and years of experience, are by default sufficiently financially savvy. How can this be?
If financial acumen is an important requirement for the job, HY loses out to the other two potential candidates.”

Bernadette Tay wrote, “PE2017 was a disgraceful episode in Singapore history for the ex-Speaker of the House, Halimah Yacob to work with the PM and deprive its citizen the right to vote. Shame on both the PM and selected President of Singapore.”

Steven Kee wrote, “The damage has been done. If LKY was still around, this would not have ever happen. LHL thought that the 69.9 has given him the blank check, he is so wrong now. No wonder his siblings & especially his father has played him out on the last will. Who knows, this maybe the start of papies going downhill.”

Shah Omar wrote, “Nothing we do can change anything. Madam Halimah is a fine lady but she is the collateral damage because of the system. I would have preferred a President with no political affiliation. Right now, Singaporean should remain united and do best for our country.”

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