Credit: Andrew Loh
Just read a part of the parliamentary debate on the changes to the Elected Presidency. (Ya, my life sucks. Nothing better to do than trawl the Hansard. Ha!)
Having read the transcripts, and gone through the changes to the scheme, my conclusion is: it would be quite pointless to take the time to cast a vote for the EP.
I mean, the office has become so irrelevant to the common person, so out-of-touch, the qualifying candidate would be someone so high up there, so elite, that I seriously doubt he or she would be able to identify with the average, common folk.
The Presidency has been modified so thoroughly, and abused so much for political reasons (by the PAP), that it is nothing more than just another exclusive club for selected (and favoured) elites. Elites who, given Singapore society, are necessarily from the PAP or PAP-linked network.
(Let’s be honest. No one can win unless the PAP and its affiliates support him or her.)
If voting was not compulsory, I’d elect to stay home, put up my legs and have a good nap instead.
One of my main beef with the changes, and one of the more ridiculous changes, is how the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), an UNELECTED body with appointed members, can effectively veto/override the Elected President’s disagreement with the government.
When the WP brought this up, questioning why an unelected council can have such powers over the president, DPM Teo Chee Hean said this was not true.
He said that what happens is if the CPA disagrees with the president but agrees with the government, then the matter will revert back to Parliament for a vote. And so, DPM Teo claimed, the CPA does not have power over the president because the final decision will be made by an elected body (Parliament).
This explanation by DPM Teo is of course, and clearly disingenuous.
Isn’t Parliament made up of an overwhelming majority of PAP MPs? And isn’t the conclusion a foregone one, given that these MPs will have to vote according to the party Whip?
It’s a bloody joke, right?
The question is: why should the CPA’s disagreement with the president be given so much weight that it would trigger the summoning of the entire Parliament to, effectively, discuss its (CPA’s) disagreement?
Since the President is supposed to be the so-called “second key”, shouldn’t his decision override the government’s? I mean, isn’t that what is supposed to happen?
But now, we have empowered an unelected body to override the president.
Why then go through the whole shebang of an election, wasting taxpayers’ money, to elect a president?
The enhanced powers of the CPA subverts the democratic will of the people, in the same way the Election Department is used to subvert the people’s will by – secretly – redrawing the boundaries at every election – without a squeak of an explanation to justify the changes.
It is very sad to see all this happening and we are unable to do anything about it to stop the rot at the top – a rot which now permeates the entire political system.