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The last thing we want is a referee kayu for a President

by Augustine Low

A few days after saying he preferred to be a defender rather than a striker who scored goals, presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam revisited his football analogy. This time, he assured that he would not be on the same team as the government once he becomes President.

“If anything, I’ll be a referee,” he said.

The problem is that he would be a referee who used to be a star player for one of the teams – the People’s Action Party (PAP) government.

On top of that, he is effectively given the blessing and endorsement to be a referee by that team.

So what kind of referee does that make him?

Most likely a referee kayu – a Singlish chant to scold referees for making biased decisions, or for failing to blow the whistle on blatant fouls.

Do Singaporeans want a referee kayu for a President?

Perhaps it’s best that Mr Tharman spare us any more football analogy.

We do not want to be reminded that the Singapore football team recently suffered an embarrassing 7-0 loss to Malaysia in the SEA Games in Cambodia.

Neither we do we want a flashback to the ill-fated Goal 2010.

In 1998, Mah Bow Tan declared that Singapore was taking its “first step in a journey of a thousand miles towards Goal 2010” – the glorious aim of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

It’s already 2023 and Singapore is still a zillion miles away from qualifying for any World Cup. The recent 7-0 drubbing by Malaysia only serves to underscore that.

Singaporeans most certainly do not need Mr Tharman to be goalkeeper, defender, striker or referee.

He should stop fudging with football analogy, and tell the people in simple, clear terms what he stands for and what makes him independent.

We need a President to serve the interests of the people, not the party he served for more than 20 years.

It is long overdue that we have a fearless President for the people of Singapore, one who will be a check and scrutiny on the government without fear or favour.

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