As President, ‘I will be the conscience of the nation,’ says Jee Say

The same day that Law Minister K Shanmugam told a seminar that “The president can speak on issues only as authorised by the Cabinet; and he must follow the advice of the Cabinet in the discharge of his duties,” (Straits Times, 6 August 2011, Law Minister debunks notions on what president can say, by Lydia Lim) Tan Jee Say told me that he intended to “project myself as the conscience of the nation” should he become President.

Tan is one of the six men who have submitted an application to the three-man Presidential Elections Committee for a Certificate of Eligibility.

I caught up with him Friday afternoon to get a sense of his thoughts.

He expanded on the same theme when approached by the Straits Times, on the evening of 6 August:

‘I think the mission of the President is to provide checks and balances on the Government and the President would not be doing his duty if he doesn’t speak up, whenever the Government crosses the line or fails to deliver its promises to the people. He has the moral authority to do so because he has been directly elected by the people. If I’m elected president I would not betray the people’s trust and speak up for them,’ he said.

— Straits Times Breaking News, 6 August 2011, Tan Jee Say: ‘I will speak up on issues of conscience’, by Tessa Wong

Shanmugam tried very hard at the seminar to argue that the Constitution forbade the President from speaking out of turn. In actual fact this is not explicitly stated in the Constitution. What we have is a convention from the British system where the monarch never says anything except the most innocuous of pleasantries. Even when she makes a speech, the script is either written by the Prime Minister or the cabinet, or is approved by it.

However, it is a bit rich for any member of the present government to demand adherence to British constitutional practice when the same government has raped it by introducing Group Representation Constituencies, continuing with detention without trial, giving itself editorial leverage over mainstream media, and carrying on with Section 377A of the Penal Code when all four would be outrageous by the standards of British constitutional and human rights practice.

Most crucially, however, there is a key difference between the British monarchy and the Singapore presidency — the latter is elected by popular mandate.

The British system makes sense because the person who gets to be monarch does so by accident of birth; naturally it is not right that this person should interfere in any way with government. But when the whole idea of an elected presidency is to accord the man in the office a mandate in his own right, it would be naive — and insensitive to popular will  — for the law minister to think that the office remains virtually identical to that of a British head of state. Citizens expect their votes to count for something. Voters are not window-dressing to give legitimacy to the People’s Action Party (PAP) alone.

That said, how exactly the office will evolve will depend on what the elected occupants make of it. It may well be that one after another, our presidents will be “dumb” — as another hopeful, Tan Kin Lian, put it, (Yahoo News, 6 August 2011, ‘No requirement that President should be dumb’ by Ion Danker) — and after a few decades, this becomes the convention here. Or a few presidents, through force of personality, carve out a role for the office over time.

* * * * *

In my interview with Tan Jee Say, I began by asking what he thought people looked for in a president. In his view, he said, “people look for someone independent of the PAP who will have the moral authority to provide check and balance.”

While there is a place for the ceremonial, the traditional practice of the presidency, as he acknowledged, there needs to be a bigger role, “to do justice to the elected presidency, for the purpose for which it is designed.”

As he saw it, there is a risk of Singapore suffering from a “tyranny of the majority” referring to the super-majority that the PAP has in Parliament. “They can do anything they like.” And for this reason, it is important to have someone able to speak up “as the conscience of the nation”.

“I have a good understanding of how government works,” he said, citing his period in the upper echelons of the civil service before he left in 1990. Although he was mainly in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, he was also involved in many inter-ministerial committees, he reminded me. Among these was one on the problems of the aged, another on the Banking Secrecy Act, and yet another related to housing issues in the wake of the PAP’s loss of Anson constituency in 1984.

That may be so, but many people might envisage a situation where the government would simply refuse to engage with him should he get to be President. In fact, none other than Shanmugam himself spelt it out:

‘Whether the president actually wields influence obviously depends on who the president is. If he is someone who commands little or no respect of the prime minister, then of course influence will be limited,’ [Shanmugam] said.

— Straits Times Breaking News, 6 August 2011, Tan Jee Say: ‘I will speak up on issues of conscience’, by Tessa Wong

I asked Jee Say: Are you not too identified with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)? He had stood under its ticket for the Holland-Bukit Timah constituency in the May 2011 general election.

“My association with the SDP was quite brief, and I have already resigned. My views are fresh, and are shared by many people; they are not the exclusive domain of the SDP.

“I brought my views to the SDP,” he added, to underline how his views were his own even before he joined the SDP for the elections.

While he said he could not name names, Tan described how even some ex-PAP members of parliament and cadres are in contact with him, going out of their way to point out stuff that he might be interested in reading. One such message, he said, highlighted similarities between the unnamed correspondent’s report submitted to the Economic Review Committee and his own ideas.

He took pains to stress that unlike the other leading aspirants, he is the only one never to have been associated with the PAP. He might have been a civil servant, but was never a member of the party. But this measure, he considers his claim of independence to be the most credible.

* * * * *

Moving on to the areas where the President has discretion, by virtue of the Constitution, I asked him to sketch out his broadbrush thinking. I think it is useful for the public to know what a candidate’s overarching philosophy is when he has to decide on any of these issues.

On the reserves, his first reaction was that Singapore is terribly lacking in transparency. “All sovereign wealth funds, including the Norwegian one — the world’s best performing one — publish their figures,” he pointed out. “Why not Singapore?

“How much do we have? Are the reserves here?” — a question that is particularly pertinent in a week when financial markets are in turmoil.

In a brief digression, he asked me to look up the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation’s annual report, saying that I would find an annualised rate of return in US Dollars of about seven percent over a ten-year period. “Why US Dollars?” he asked.

So I did. Indeed, if you too go to the Portfolio Investment Report for 2010/2011, you will find this table on page 10:

We don’t know how much our sovereign wealth increased in value over the last twelve months, but if we estimate from the annualised 5-year and 10-year rates, perhaps it grew by about 7 percent, in US Dollar terms. But note this: The US Dollar itself declined 11 percent between end-July 2010 and end-July 2011.

From another angle, take the full 5-year period. At an annualised rate of 6.3 percent, the total return over all five years would be 35.7 percent. Ah, but five years ago, around mid-2006, the exchange rate was US$1 = S$1.58. Thus, in this period, the US Dollar has depreciated 23.4 percent. Hence in Singapore Dollar terms, our assets have grown by about 2.3 percent per year.

Please note:  this discussion about numbers is from me, not from Tan Jee Say.

Coming back to him, what else did he say about the reserves?

“Our reserves are growing by more than S$10 billion a year,” he pointed out. “This means that people are overtaxed.”

He believes that citizens have a right to know the details of money that is theirs. But isn’t it important to preserve freedom of manuoevre when handling investments? I asked. Wouldn’t revealing too much deny the fund managers that?

“But other sovereign wealth funds can publish details, why can’t we?” was his response. Tan conceded that there may be a risk that speculators might attack the Singapore Dollar if they knew exactly how much we had in reserves, but evidently he considers the risk small and manageable.

Then what about people clamouring for more welfare spending? I asked. His response was that even if people are surprised initially, “cool heads will prevail”. He was confident that Singaporeans “are not a hysterical people, we are rational about these things.”

The second area where the President has a specific role is that of corruption investigations, as provided by Article 22G of the Constitution. It’s actually a very limited role that comes up only when the prime minister has blocked an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. The President may unblock it.

My own gut feeling is that moving forward, this power will prove to be an important one for the elected president. Singapore’s reputation for being corruption-free is largely the legacy of one man’s will — Lee Kuan Yew. As we move into the post-Lee era, there is no reason to think we are special. Many parties, too long in power, see the rise of cronyism, which is a form of corruption, if not outright money-takings. Even under the PAP, there have been high-level misdeeds. I reminded Jee Say of the case involving the former housing minister Teh Cheang Wan, which took place while Tan himself was serving as a senior civil servant.

“It would be ideal,” he said, after some thought, “for the elected president to be continually briefed about the important cases the CPIB is looking into” and not have to wait until the prime minister vetoes it. Tan is however also aware that the CPIB is at any given time, engaged in a lot of inquiries; it may not be practical to keep the president informed of all of them, but certainly, if any suspicions point to a senior officer of the state, the president should be kept informed.

On a related front, Tan Jee Say thinks that the role of the president in approving top-level appointments is an important one, for which he would exercise special diligence. Article 22 of the Constitution gives the president a veto over appointments of Supreme Court judges, military and police chiefs, Auditor-General, Attorney-General, and so forth. “We have to make sure they are not motivated by money” and that they have a passion for the job.  This is especially critical now that salaries are so high. How can one be sure that they are not aspiring to the job because of the high pay? “This is an important consideration before confirming them to their posts.”

* * * * *

The first hurdle that Tan has to cross is that of the Certificate of Eligibility. This should be known within a week. Few Singaporeans believe that the committee is totally independent of political considerations. A common feeling is that who the committee disqualifies or approves will, to a great extent, be determined by which scenario is considered least risky for the government’s preferred candidate, Tony Tan. So whether Tan Jee Say will get a chance to present himself and his case to voters is right now a huge unknown.

32 Responses to “As President, ‘I will be the conscience of the nation,’ says Jee Say”

  1. 1 Forecaster 7 August 2011 at 19:47

    “So whether Tan Jee Say will get a chance to present himself and his case to voters is right now a huge unknown.”

    PAP MP Charles Chong was reported to have said it is possible only one COE will be issued.

    This one I tend to agree with him. In fact I would go further to say it is most probable. Although I am just ordinary Joe, my gut feeling on Singapore election outcome had never gone wrong before.

    Because based on the events and happenings leading to the elections, I can quite accurately predict what will be the most likely outcome.

  2. 2 TK 7 August 2011 at 20:51

    Nowhere lies the answer which will acknowledge that a measure of independence in presidential interpretation is acceptable. Instead, Minister Shanmugam chose to do this narrowly, rather than a more flexible method. In the end,the key principle that concerns me as a voter is the means for the President’s interpretive authority – how the President can best contribute to the development of constitutional meaning – must vary with context. At a minimum, the shared and collaborative nature of the interpretive enterprise requires the President to explain publicly and with detailed reasoning any actions premised on constitutional views that conflict with those of Parliament or the “Council of Advisors”. To say that the President “must” listen to them is ridiculous. Are the Council of Advisors running for the PE here? If anything positive can be attributed to the present EP interpretive abuses, it is a heightened public awareness of the critical need for scrutiny of executive branch legal interpretations and interpretive practices.

    Lastly, I believe most people by now have no issues with all the duties laid out. It’s clear where the EP veto powers are. The main contention for most people is the fact that ALL the discussion & communications must remain behind closed doors (in private with PM) unless authorized by Council & Cabinet. But Shanmugam forgets that the people who voted the MPs into Parliament (while guided by constitution too) have access to TV debate on issues. Thus they know if their elected MPs are doing a good representational job on behalf of the electorate. Unlike the EP, if grave matters concerning our Reserves etc are not privy to us how will we come to learn and discern if the President is indeed doing a great job? And how are you to vote or approve him for another term? I for one, have forgotten how Nathan got his 2nd term on an automatic contract renewal! On what basis exactly?

    Obviously, the government still think that we Singaporeans are incapable of qualifying “obviously incapable people”.

  3. 3 Anonymous 7 August 2011 at 21:17

    What would be the real rate of return for GIC investment in Sing dollar terms?

  4. 4 Singa 7 August 2011 at 21:58

    ‘Whether the president actually wields influence obviously depends on who the president is. If he is someone who commands little or no respect of the prime minister, then of course influence will be limited,’ [Shanmugam] said.

    Read in-between the lines of a top-notch PAP minister echoing his party’s worry of an EP hopeful, other than PAP-endorsed TT, being elected as President:

    @ the voice of the S’pore electorate, their mandate, is irrelevant. The incumbent PM’s wish/decision is what counts.

    @ reflects PAP’s group-think & “kiasu” approach

    @ manifestation of the ugliness/danger of absolute power.

  5. 5 Singa 7 August 2011 at 23:24

    Only one COE? With post GE2011 climatic condition very unlikely.

    Bookies taking bets for one-to-one between TT and Dr Tan CB;
    three-corner fight.. three Tans except Tan SJ
    and 3rd possible scenerio, contest amongst the four Tans.

    The non-Tans getting a COE is a “dark-horse” bet.

  6. 6 SAL 7 August 2011 at 23:27

    To forecaster, in that case, there’ll be a riots in Singapore.
    Just look at what happens to Israel now..cost of living protest & other issues! Look at Bersih 2.0. Look at Thailand removing their elite Oxford Premier..we’re living in interesting and uncertain times. It is even more crucial to have a fresh pair of new eyes to work with our present elected govt. Not an “old steady hand”. We’re in the new world with new challenges. We need new thinking and abled men to come forward and tackle this together. Tony Tan can always be tapped as an advisor or counsel in his personal capacity. The GIC/Reserves have been in the secret chambers for far too long.

    If they only issue 1 writ, that’ll be the end for PAP regime. Sooner than LKY predicted..mark my words.

  7. 7 If Only One COE Then How? 7 August 2011 at 23:27

    If only one COE is issued for this Presidential Elections, I predict the sale of black T-shirts and jeans will go up by an exponential amount.

  8. 8 A.M 7 August 2011 at 23:44

    We should move away from the British Westminster system to a semi-presidential system where both President and Prime Minister shares equal power

  9. 9 Daniel Ho 8 August 2011 at 00:21

    I put my bet on at least three COEs. If the committee truly wants TT to win, they will not only award TT a COE. That will create a PR disaster. Instead they will let as many contest as possible. The non-establishment vote will be split and TT will win with a comfortable majority.

    This is a simple game theory coordination problem. The only way to break it would be for some of the non-TT Tans to magnanimously quit and back one candidate.

    • 10 Rajiv Chaudhry 8 August 2011 at 13:05

      “The non-establishment vote will be split and TT will win with a comfortable majority”.

      Agree with you completely.

      This is the most likely outcome, if things stand the way they do today.

  10. 11 Netina 8 August 2011 at 00:57

    I think it is not appropriate to compare Singapore’s elected presidency scheme with that of the British Monarchy. They are not comparable. While the British monarch and the Singapore President are both symbolic head of state; the British monarch is not elected by the people while the Singapore President is. The question now is how representative is Singapore’s elected office? Especially since we have paying so much money to support this office with certain veto powers.

    As A.M. suggests, Singapore’s electoral and political system may be evolving closer towards a semi-presidential system (// to that of France). Should a non-PAP sanctioned candidate gets elected, it is most likely that the PAP will tweak the elected presidency scheme and curtail its powers after this election.

  11. 12 JOHNNY 8 August 2011 at 03:48

    If only one COE is issued, many will cry FOUL and UNDEMOCRATIC ! ! !

    All the more we need to work harder to vote out the PAP in the GE2016 !

    PAP indeed have lost their moral compass and became more undemocratic and abusive in executing their powers !

    The PEC’s conduct will be called into question and corruption is at the top of the list !
    The requirements were set by PAP which are self-serving, abuse and over restrictive, They must be changed !

  12. 13 Tan Ah Kow 8 August 2011 at 04:19

    On comparison with the British constitution, it is worth noting that the Queen – i.e. the Person – even today is actually empowered to go against the advice of the government. This is known as the royal perogative. One such power is the ability to select a prime minister. Personally she has not done so but The Queen – i.e. the Institution in the form of the Governor General- has exercised the perogative. See constitutional crisis in Australia.

    However monarchies in Japan and Scandinavian countries do not have such power. In Japan the emperor is not even the head of state but only the symbol of the nation.

  13. 14 Robox 8 August 2011 at 04:44

    PART 1

    Advisory: The theory that I am expounding on in this post assumes free and fair elections – including general elections – as well as a free and fair political environment in between elections. This would be an erroneous asumption to make of Singapore. As such, most of this post must then necessarily be only of the political theory; my basic premise that the Singapore Parliament does not have the legitimate mandate of the people precisely because of the unfree and unfair conditions imposed on the electorate at and in between elections has to be considered in this light. And neither does any President elected have that legitimacy under the present conditions.

    This part of my discussion is really centred on the term “on the advice of the Cabinet”, which originated in the constitutional arrangement in Britain at the advent of the modern state – and constitutional monarchy in the case of Britain – there. It was deemed at that time that because it is Parliament – by virtue of having been directly elected by the people – that has received the mandate of the people, it is more truly representative of the people. (I’ll return to this particular aspect of the theory later.) Thus, the constitutional monarch in a democracy defers to the highest representatives of the people, the Executive, for they are more representative of the people’s wishes: the Head of State only acts on the advice of Cabinet. (I will stand corrected, but from my understanding, this refers to normal circumstances only because the Head of State in the Westminster tradition can act differently in situations of crises.)

    Thus, it would seem from the theory that being elected directly by the people would confer greater legitimacy to those directly elected as truer representatives of the people than those who were not despite the legitimacy of their positions also being derived from the Constitution.

    In the Westminster tradition, there are four modes of ascension (that I know of and remember from my studies) for the Head of State. They are:

    1. by way of direct elections by the people – this is the mode in Singapore currently;

    2. by way of indirect elections, such as with previous Heads of States in Singapore who were elected by Parliament;

    3. by way of appointment, most usually by a body that is appointed by the Executive; or,

    4. heriditary.

    (continued in PART 2)

  14. 15 Robox 8 August 2011 at 04:45

    PART 2

    However, the first point I would like to make before I arrive at my final conclusions (or not), the point that I said that I would return to just earlier and a legitimate one in political theory, is that whether a Head of State is a heriditary one, or if s/he is appointed or elected directly or indirectly, ALL have the mandate of the people because:

    1. all the above modes of ascension to the position of Head of State have the sanction of the Constitution;

    2. the Constitution has been framed – amendments notwithstanding – by Parliament:

    3. who have been elected by the people in direct elections; and,

    4. therefore the true representatives of the people.

  15. 16 Tan Ah Kow 8 August 2011 at 05:38

    On Tan Jee Say as a person, the fact he has the balls to stand on SDP ticket- but I don’t think he believe in the party – in the last election suggest that he would indeed be willing to stand up to the PAP government.

    On his point about the reserve, the part of the presidency that he could exercise power of sort, I am not sure I am able to discern from his pronouncement about “people being over tax” and wanting information publish, what his thought would be if he felt he would have to turn down government’s request for use of the reserve.

    Certainly, I think he should at least voice out what he thinks the reserved is intended for? Is it purely to, as in Norways case, to act as a buffer to even out pension fund? Or is the reserve meant to protect the value of the Singapore Dollar? Or is the reserve really intended really as a managed fund for the goverment or its GLCs to play fund manager?

    Unless he is clear in his mind what the Reserve is intended for, how can I as a voter have the assurance that his thought process, should he be require to sign off, transfer of asset is indeed for the purpose intended of the asset. For example, if the reserved is intended to protect Singapore Dollar than as president he should turn down the use of reserved to be tied up in long term asset because such use require a liquid asset. If it is to even out pension fund than as he should judge and approve investments in terms of returns over pension lfe payout lifecycle.

    My concern is that I don’t think he himself have in his mind any clarity of what the reserved is for. In the last election, when he was selling his policy idea he kept extolling his policy idea in terms of how he got endorsement from some British ex economic advisor. Personally selling one’s own policy or idea on the backs of other endorsement does not demonstrate confidence.

    To be fair, I have not seen any of the other candidates demonstrating any appreciation of what the reserved is for? Not even Tony Tan!

    Overall I suppose if the electorate wants and independent minded President he could be one but he needs to, in my opinion, articulate what he thinks the reserved is for. At the very least it would help electorate have clarity over his thought processes when he is required to sign off asset transfer.

  16. 17 Robox 8 August 2011 at 07:12

    PART 3

    Notwithstanding my post in PART 2 regarding the point that no matter what the mode of ascension to the position of Head of State is, all of them do have the mandate of the people. But it would also seem according to the other aspect of the theory, that some modes of ascension carry greater legitimacy than others. It might be more meaningful then to make distinctions between a public office receiving a “direct mandate” (from the people) and those that don’t, with shades of legitimacy ascribed to each of them coressponding to the modes of ascension to their office.

    This would now mean that, an elected president, a complication of the Westminster tradition introduced by the PAP government, also has EQUAL legitimacy of mandate of the people as Parliament does.

    Why then can the elected President not reject any advice of the Cabinet as K Shanmugam most lately ‘clarified’?

    Okay, it can also be argued that the roles of the legislature/Executive and those of the President are different ones and have to be understood by the electorate to be so – yet another problematic area in an electorate so disinformed – and thus the mandate we give to the legislature/Executive is an entirely different mandate that we give to any President that we elect. The mandate we give to elected MPs is for their specific roles and powers, while the mandate we give to the elected President is for his (or her) specific ones.


  17. 18 Robox 8 August 2011 at 07:15

    PART 4

    In that case, and in light of Rubber Stampanathan’s – RS, and not SR Nathan, incidentally – interview now with the media titled “President constitutionally obliged to act on advice of Cabinet: President Nathan”, how do we square this:

    The Constitution does stipulate that the President only acts on the advice of Cabinet, but if the PAP government even knew a modicum of the historical reasons for it – now complicated, and in the same process, debased by the same PAP government’s introduction of the directly elected President – and more than that, what the President’s signature, as a symbol of State and all it sanctions on any or all legal documents is supposed to mean, then Rubber Stampanathan would not have replied the way he did here.

    The President’s signature on all legal documents indicates that his (or her) office has ensured that any legal or political process that reaches the President’s office for final approval as “State-sanctioned” – such as with assent to Bills or pardons to inmates on death row – has to first ensure that those legal and political processes:

    1. were conducted in accordance with correct procedure; and,

    2. are themselves constitutional in all respects.

    That’s the President’s role as a check on the Executive. They are part of the unwritten constitution – “convention” to be specific – in the Westminster tradition?

    Would Vignesh Mourthi, executed by Rubber Stampanathan, be dead today if Nathan himself had adhered to those constitutional provisions?

    Neither “correct procedure” nor the “constitutionality of any law involving the mandatory death penalty” were considered in Vignesh Mourthi’s state-sanctioned murder by Rubber Stampanathan.

  18. 19 53891 8 August 2011 at 08:36

    “We have to make sure they are not motivated by money” and that they have a passion for the job. This is especially critical now that salaries are so high. How can one be sure that they are not aspiring to the job because of the high pay? “This is an important consideration before confirming them to their posts.”

    What about Tan Jee Say himself? Is he motivated by money or passion? Will he forgo his salary or donate it to charity if elected?

  19. 20 53891 8 August 2011 at 09:15

    Even if the president made a lot of noise against the PAP (or whoever is in power), what can he actually do when he has no executive power? He may be stonewalled, as Ong Teng Cheong was. So should the constitution be amended to give him executive power? If so, how much? Should the president have more power than the PM, any one of the MPs, or the entire parliament combined? Of course not, because if he is corrupt, stupid, lazy or all three, the country would be doomed.

    Soft power is really no power. Too much hard power given to one person is dangerous. Conclusion: the president should just stick to cutting ribbons. Or, if you don’t want to pay $11.6m per year (don’t forget the president has a lot of frills and thrills besides his salary) for a ribbon cutter, you should boycott the elections, and put pressure on the PM to go cut the ribbons himself.

  20. 21 Pundit 8 August 2011 at 09:20

    On the President Elect, there are some things that we can do about changing the outcome, though for the most part it is fait accompli. No further need for discussion or frustration. If you people out there feel so strongly about this issue – use your vote irregardless of who said what.

  21. 22 53891 8 August 2011 at 09:21

    The anti-PAP presidential hopefuls are wriggling their way around the constitution. No one has suggested that the constitution should be changed. Why?

  22. 23 Chanel 8 August 2011 at 10:57

    I totally agree with Tan Jee Say’s insinuation that our two sovereign wealth funds lack transparency. Like he said, why are GIC’s investment returns not in S’pore dollars? I would add that GIC tried hard to hide the fact that its 20-year real rate of return (after global inflation) was a meagre 3.9% this year and 3.8% last year. What is the real rate of return in S’poe dollar terms? Why is GIC’s portfolio being compared to 60%/40% and 70%/30% global equities/global bonds??

  23. 24 Chanel 8 August 2011 at 10:59

    My guess is the PAP would significantly reduce the presidential powers should Tony Tan lose this election. The PAP can change the constitution as they please because they have 2/3 majority in Pariliament. Future presidents would be like what Tan Kin Lian said….”dumb”!!

  24. 25 wikigam 8 August 2011 at 11:25

    I will vote for the President who brave to appeal 377A penal code.

  25. 26 wikigam 8 August 2011 at 15:31

    To : 53891

    unless is walkover , if not the voters have assigned “POWER” to the elected President. EP should hold the ” RIGHT” of ” POWER” neither soft nor hard. EP should do the “RIGHT” for Citizens .

  26. 27 Robin Low 8 August 2011 at 16:25

    This COE thing is totally BS and yet another form of control that limits democracy. The EP is already a much ceremonial role, with some visibility, are you even limiting that?

    Why does Singapore like to have meetings behind closed doors? Bribery? Black Mail? The lack of transparency with Sovereign funds is worrying enough.

  27. 28 Gazebo 8 August 2011 at 21:26

    The irony is that Tony Tan will be the first and only president who will actually know how much are the reserves he is supposed to protect. lol.

  28. 29 Rabbit 9 August 2011 at 01:02

    Just finished watching SR Nathan interview, and either he is actually a dumb-ass or me to even bother to watch the half hour boring interview with not much substance in this highest PAP elected president. His speech carries no weight as president and basically he left all his power to his advisor, the council and parliament to decide all matters concerning Singaporeans. Thereafter he still claimed he did many things and when probed, his “many things” were actually his “thoughts” and simply follow instruction given to him because his master (2/3 in parliament) is ALWAYS right in their opinion. There was not a single slightest independent view of his own.

    Basically, Nathan reasoned that he has religiously abide by the constitution, within the constitutions and from the constitution. He lauded that he did not break any “law” laid down by PAP and that was a success which he can path way for future successor to follow. Unlike the late Ong Teng Cheong who tried to work independently above the constitutions to protect our reserves. SR Nathan is a typical PAP president, extremely passive for the last 12 years.

    Enough is enough. Too much taxpayer’s monies have been wasted on unproductive president backed by PAP. The sum could easily saved many charities from going dry without needing regular president charity show.

    We want a people mandated president who knows his rights outside the constitutions and work around the constitutions for genuine CHECK N BALANCE on the government. We wanted a president who is truly value for money paid to him to be the people eyes, as simple as that. Thus we don’t need Shanmugam to cry foul and made unncessary judgment, like he did on YONG VUI KONG’s case, before the court passes the verdict. He should learn his mistake for making unncessary noises. Thus I have no respect for Shanmugam as much as I disrespect Vivian Balakrishnan for their dirty politics.

    I hope PAP can leave all the president hopeful alone and let this maturing population decide the highest office best representative of its people so that he can stand proud on National Day Parade. With that, Tony Tan is out of my radar.

  29. 30 homemaker 9 August 2011 at 17:15

    Is the law minister the legislature? Does he not realize there is such a thing as Hansard?

  30. 31 Henry Goh 10 August 2011 at 16:14

    Is K Shanmugam saying that 2.27 million people are obliged to go to the polls on 27/8/2011 to vote for someone to act as a robot of the PAP?

  31. 32 yuen 12 August 2011 at 13:35

    contrary to fears that TJS would be denied a certificate to run, he and TKL have both qualified as candidates, and now they need to worry about whether to put down $48K as election deposit and take a punt on getting 12.5%; if all three non-PAP guys run, there is a good chance that one, maybe two, will not get back the deposit; TJS has been endorsed by Temasek Review and would probably get the help of some opposition activists, while support for TKL is less out there; TCB appears to be the one attracting donations and so need not worry about losing his deposit; my guess is there will be three candidates only.

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