In her New Year’s address, President Halimah Yacob talked entirely about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and how Singapore needed “all hands on deck” to overcome the crisis and build a better future for generations. Given that the pandemic had and continues to have a mammoth effect globally, the contents of her speech is unsurprising.
However, it would be remiss not to point out that there have been other events that have rocked Singaporean society which the President has negated to mention. One being the controversial Parti Liyani case. Not only has the case been one where the underdog has seemingly surmounted all odds to win at the High Court, but it was also one which exposed probable abuse of power by well-connected individuals such as Liew Mun Leong and probable negligence on the part of various state agencies.
In fact, the President has very recently been sent an open letter signed by 27 civil organisations urging her to convene a commission of inquiry (COI) to review Singapore’s justice system. Something that she has the power to summon but to which she has hitherto been silent.
How can she deliver a speech to the nation as President when she has so far ignored the wishes of her citizens who are imploring her, as head of state, for help?
It bears pointing out that the Parti Liyani case is not just any other case. It is a case that has generated so much national attention that the Minister for Law and Internal Affairs, K Shanmugam himself, had to deliver a Parliamentary speech on it. It is also a case where a powerful man, Liew Mun Leong, who counts the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching as a personal contact, had to resign all his positions with various state-affiliated organisations.
The President’s New Year’s address to the nation should be one that wraps up the key events of the past year with aspirations for the coming year. Apart from the effects of Covid-19, isn’t a case that turned the justice system on its head worth a mention?
While the authorities may consider the matter closed, it is clear that Singaporeans still do not. The letter that has been sent to the President signed by 27 civil organisations is testament to the fact that the matter is far from satisfactorily dealt with.
After all, can a “behind closed doors” internal investigation that cannot be independently verified by objective third parties really be conclusive?
The President is meant to represent us all in a non-partisan capacity. Why then is she seemingly ignoring the requests of her citizens?