Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An activist President will destroy the Office, divide the Nation

As per my daily routine, I signed on to several websites in the morning, including my facebook account. Immediately I get information overload across the pages, but this morning something caught my eye. It was a post by Tan Kin Lian.

  • http://yawningbread.wordpress.​com/2011/07/26/what-is-a-presi​dent-for-and-how-do-we-choose/​\\Personally, I would rather have an activist president than a compliant one. Sure, constitutionally, he has very little room for manoeuvre, but all it takes is a bit of smarts and creativit

He was referring to the latest blog post by "Yawning Bread". I decided to read this after having done with the latest update from Robert Kiyosaki, "Conspiracy of the Rich" update #92.

The sort of activist president "Yawning Bread" is proposing doesn't sounds like a president that is able to unify the people. I have noticed there is no room for wisdom but instead pushing the limits for alternative agendas against the government of the day, which is also elected by the people. A President and Cabinet opposed to each other suggest a people that has become double-minded and unstable since both were chosen by the very same voters. What a quick and short road to perdition for this tiny nation.

If I may borrow from the Roman Catholic Church, the President should be like God and the PM and his Ministers are the Pope and the Cardinals. God is acting invisibly, all wise and seeing. He is very patient, never have to worry about his reputation and foremost in his mind is the welfare of the people. Their welfare is his glory! His might is in his wisdom from an in depth understandings of the ways of the world and government. He looks far ahead and remind the government and people not to squander the intangibles of values and family under the pressure of short term gains and when faith is flagging.

Fact of life is we will never have a President remotely close to being god-like in the Jewish, Christian or Islamic sense. But if you want a leader who is not under immediate pressure to perform and deliver, who is a protector of all things Singaporean, that is the best image. Just consider the times how the Roman Catholic Church had lost its way but was able to eventually return to the growth path. Nations have risen and fallen, companies too but the religions have survived, united by God or gods. Learn from them.

Perhaps I do not know what will work well here, but I am sure an activist President will do Singapore no good. Parliament's hand might be forced to remove him even if push comes to shove. The reputational and execution damage to us would be overwhelming. This country would become even more divided. Therefore I have decided that Mr. Tan Kin Lian is not a wise choice for President. There are two, may be three Tans left to consider.

As for Tan Kin Lian, he ought to have stood for election as an opposition MP candidate. Why he had opted to contest the Presidency, I cannot understand.

Why are we here at all? Time has perhaps show that the innovation of the GRC system and the Elected Presidency are bad ideas. Before they can help us to avoid tomorrow's problems, they are causing big problems today. The folks who fashioned these ideas are proving not to be constitutional geniuses but just practical men solving bread, butter and security issues. They were wildly successful on that score. I only know that a horse can take you this far, but I am unsure where and what the "car" is to take over from the horse. I only know that if the WP ever gets to form the government, the GRC and EP will be abolished. Not a bad idea.


  1. Those views on Yawning Bread was by Alex Au. As a Singaporean, this is what Alex Au would like his President to be.

    We all have our own personal wishes and views on what our Singapore President should be.

    In this Q&A video (http://youtu.be/2y0F51Kkty0), Mr Tan has made his position clear on how he will be working with the existing government.

  2. @ "As for Tan Kin Lian, he ought to have stood for election as an opposition MP candidate. Why he had opted to contest for the Presidency, I cannot understand."

    I tend to disagree strongly.

    E.g., CPF was a hot topic back in 2003, even with the media.

    Read this Link :-

    Presidential Election Watch Part III - Dr Tony Tan & Singaporeans' CPF Savings & Wage Cuts


    Dr Tony Tan had been both a DPM and PAP MP. And Dr Tan Cheng Bock had been an "outspoken" PAP MP.

    Are we more "unified" today and could sleep "peacefully" ever after? I do not think "silent diplomacy" is necessarily more superior, especially when problems get compounded and more complicated years down the road. It could become an "escapist" route.

    An EP who asks the right intelligent questions could help to "heal" and bind the Govt, "citizens" and even "opposition parties" together a whole, if not the "drift" might start and fissures would appear or widen.

    PM Lee had spoken about an inclusive society when he took over as PM in 2004. Are we more "inclusive" today, or "divided"; or "drifting" as viewed from GE 2011?

    The EP need not be an "assertive" activist on the Govt, but be the people's voice in real needs. As the Chinese saying goes, like "a dragonfly skimming over water". If the Govt is intelligent enough, it should act. If not come the next GE, voters will be intellignet enough to act. If the Govt does listen up, we are all for the better...for Singaporeans.

    The real issue is the Govt should not view an "activist" EP in the defensive, as if he is an "opposition". This will not only be an obstacle in the view of the EP process but also our political process, just like the way it wants to view the "opposition".

  3. And god-like in the impotent Hindu sense don't count?

  4. A president that does nothing will not unify the country, as a sizable proportion of population will be unhappy that they voice is not heard. A president who is likely to cause too much bickering (e.g. Tan Jee Say, who proposes to spend 60B dollars from reserves to improve Singapore) will cause further divisions as well.

    Tan Kin Lian's approach presents the only path to real unification - by acting as an important feedback channel to the government. Who will ever be able to provide such a feedback but a person who is directly elected by a majority of Singaporeans?

  5. I have no interest to have a "god like president" as you say..all wise and invisible. This person does not exist. And I have no religious inclinations to make this post to be so. I want an "assertive" President who will speak out for the interest of its people because the "whole nation" voted for him..not just a segment of the constituency, is the entire nation of people.

    My sense is that singaporeans are still not used to a more "assertive" candidate. They tend to brushstroke someone who speak out their mind as "trouble maker" or "aggressive"..but it need not so. Someone who can be assertive with a velvet glove to work with the govt will be a successful one. Someone who are vague and non-precise, hiding behind any PAP propaganda or policies speak so not to create "disharmony" is NOT the president we want. This is modern day 21st century. There is a middle-way between Aggressive & Submissive. I hope people get it, and learn to accept that being vocal on issues is not what PAP like to portray "trouble maker". HE need not toe the party line of the ruling party...He is non-partisan, and he toes his conscience to do what's right for the people who entrusted their trust in him and place him there in the first place.

  6. I disagree strongly with the writer. The STRINGENT eligibility rules have already eliminated many good Singaporeans with alternative platforms to contest. We should be appreciative that Tan Kin Lian (and Tan Jee Say ) is willing to step forward to contest in this lopsided EP election which is skewed towards a preferred candidacy(s) of the establishment.

    Tan Kin Lian is the one and only person who can save Singapore from ruin. Singaporeans cannot afford to suffer in silence over the next 5 years and let the MIW butcher our society beyond recognition and hope. The only solution until 2016 is to vote in a president who can voice out our sorrows and fears and only TKL can do it based on his values of honesty, fairness, courage, positive attitude and public service.

    I have just visited a public hospital and all the nurses, clinic assistants and even doctors I spoke to told me the root cause of overcrowding of our hospitals and medical infrastructure boils down to overwhelming demand from the sudden increase of population via the liberal immigration policies over the past 5 years. It is easy to say build more hospitals, recruit and train more nurses and doctors etc, but the overcrowding and strains on our hospitals aside our public housing, transport system and schools and public amenities etc have to be solve in a holistic way and the starting point must be the immigration policy. Stop the flow and reduce the influx through more stringent rules and criteria, Instead of growing our own timber and doing some grafting, our gahmen is always in a hurry by planting imported instant trees into the landscape even if its obvious there is limited or no more planting space left.

    Recent huge media coverage in the MSM on Dr Tan Cheng Bock's submission for EP COE (aside Dr Tony Tan) shows that the invisible hand is backing these two candidates as an insurance policy so that at least one of them can win. TCB says that he has stood up to the govt in the past yet if he has his real conviction that the policies were wrong why is he still hanging around with the puppies until only last month? In truth he is only an empty vessel who can make some noise at best, but still a white empty vessel. In the case of Dr TT, he is the real mccoy whose still water runs deep.

    Vote wisely, vote TKL to save your future and your children's future!

  7. Wouldn't Nathan, if he reads this blog, claim that he fits the bill to a T, this writer's idea of an 'ideal' EP?

    This much WE now know after 18 years of E Presidency: Such an approach don't work. Such an approach is akin to the EP on his own volition putting himself in a straight-jacket - peaceful, hearing nothing, seeing nothing and doing nothing, a PAP perfect model of a tame and domesticated EP.

    It is wrong to elevate such a supine, insouciant attitude to a God. If you are a Christian, you would know about God's fury in the old testament.

    After all these years under this govt, one would have thought that the painful lessons learned from the punishments meted out by it to the population, would have taught even fools not to expect pigs to fly.

    By the way, the opposite of the word 'activist' is 'in-activist'. Is that what we want? But as someone posted, what we really one is an 'ASSERTIVE' EP whose heart is with the people who vote for him. And the only one who has concretely level with the voters of what he wants to do is TKL. He has me and my family's votes.

    The other ex-PAP candidates are just plants. Do you want to give them the next 6 years to take root in the Istana?
    While they do that, our rights and progress towards a more humane and enlighten society would simply vegetate.

  8. Singapore is already a deeply divided "nation". There is the minority exclusive club of rich and elites vs the abandoned club of poor, aged and disadvantaged. There is this native underdeveloped talents vs the foreign non-talents. There those who are connected vs those who have no connections. There are the local male majority who must serve NS and those who are excused; even ironical are those who can be MPs without having to serve NS.

    You may ask who cause this deep divide.

    The writer seems to suggest that a good president should be docile, compliant, passive and dumb and such a president should be able to heal the nation.

  9. There is a musing in my humble blog kohsl88.blogspot.com entitled "A Gauge of Singaporeans' Political Maturity & Sophistication" which your readers may want to take a look and give some comments.

  10. “I assure you I will look after you for the next five years.”

    — Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew tells supporters at SCGS nomination centre in a short speech after being elected MP for the 14th time since 1955. (27 April 2011).

    Fast forward 3 months later......

    Speaking during the South Asian Diaspora Convention last Friday (22/07/11), Lee asked about the issue of attracting ‘foreign talent’ in Singapore given the possible political implications.

    “For some time, the Singaporean has felt the competition from talented foreigners. But these are people who have come here to become our citizens and I am a firm believer that the more talent that you have in a society, the better the society will grow,” he replied nonchalantly.

    As for the discomfort felt by Singaporeans, Lee remarked callously that they will have to ‘accept’ it.

    “So you’ve got to accept the discomfort, which the local citizens fear that they are competing unequally for jobs. (It) cannot be helped. But without them, the jobs will not be there to begin with. So welcome talent and we’ll continue to welcome talent.” (Source: TRE)

    Who are the real masters and who are the true servants?

    Will the Pappy ministers and MPs speak up for the disadvantaged Singaporeans? Can you see why we need to vote in an EP who can be the voice and conscience of the people?

  11. MM Lee should put himself up for the EP contest, then the whole of Singapore will show him in no uncertain terms what the think of him. Has he the guts?

  12. How would a “non-activist” and passive elected president unify his people by being non active and passive? (Maybe the title of king, emperor or the reincarnated one might help?)

    If the “wisdom” of an elected president is for going the ways of the elected government of the day? Then why do the election twice? (a party Whip can help with the job)

    If ever the President and the Cabinet come to oppose each other (ie openly) then it could be a overt signal that one of them should go ...(a canary in a coal mine for some “perdition” may not be quick, short or obvious ... eg carbon monoxide; it is colourless, odourless, lethal in a very slow, lethargic and sleepy way ...)