By now my kids are old enough to have the experience of looking at cells under a microscope. What a shock for them to discover that it was totally different from the pictures they see in their text books. There is a yawning gap between theory and reality. Teachers focused on meeting the requirements of the syllabus do not bother or have time to close the gap of this reality distortion experience. What a pity. Repeat this experience over and over again across all subjects is what Mark Twain had warned us about schooling and education.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
We do not have many Mark Twains just as we do not have the Wright Brothers, the Einsteins etc., In fact, too many who were only schooled cruise through life thinking they were educated. Some of them had the misfortune of losing a pile buying Lehman bonds. The government conveniently ignore the schooled-educated dichotomy. MAS knew better but chose to leverage the ignorance of the investing public for the "larger good of the nation" in support of public policy. Tan Kin Lian did them a service trying to help them.
I witnessed this situation also in the unexpected number of comments in my earlier blog post on why an activist EP would be a menace to us. I think it is useful to explain to my kids who are too young to understand issues of the political economy that this is just another but more abstract example of the cells pictures in your book to the one under the microscope.
Using the allegory of the Roman Catholic Church for the EP and the Cabinet is like looking at pictures of cells in a text book. What might real life of seeing the same object under a real microscope be like? An article on Bernanke role in the ongoing debate to raise the US debt ceiling at Bloomberg is instructive: See "Bernanke May Need to Stay ‘Above Politics’ in Debt Standoff"
The US and the Philippines have executive Presidents, but every nation needs someone to perform the role of the constitution monarch or head of state. In the US, this role is distributed and opportunistic. Bernanke is the man of the moment at this time. In the Philippines, Cardinal Sin used to fill that role or absent a personality like him, the sitting Archbishop of Roman Catholic Church. Some less developed nations, the military chief wears that hat even if he often abuse it.
It is an irreplaceable loss for Singapore if we have an activist President because he will fail to perform the needed role of someone above and beyond politics at those critical moments. Our first President, Yusof Ishak performed that role with distinction going out to meet the people every day to unify the races and religions. It was a job politicians cannot do as well. An activist President will cost us dearly. If you want to be activist, go and get elected into Parliament. The Presidency is the wrong place for it. You will be forcing the government of the day to remove you from office.
I am sure I have just gone over the heads of my kids reading this. But they are not going away empty handed. They will come back again and again until they learn it. They have had such experience many times, especially with conceptual Physics.