Singaporean Presidential Elections


August 16, 2005 12:01 AM


Elections? Shoo-in more like.

From Channelnewsasia.com:

SINGAPORE : Singapore won’t get a contest for the Elected Presidency, after the Presidential Elections Committee issued only one Certificate of Eligibility to contest the poll — to incumbent President SR Nathan…

Under the Presidential Elections Act, the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee in awarding the Certificate of Eligibility is final, and is not subject to an appeal or review in court.

Is it just me or do other ppl find this situation kind of ridiculous?

The role of the Singaporean President is largely ceremonial but he (or she) has veto powers over the budget, the Internal Security Act and senior government appointments. Though seldom used these powers are meant to be a final check and balance to the government’s substantial powers. I don’t doubt the ability of the Singaporean government to govern the country nor do I believe that its citizens are too disadvantaged under the current system with its completely impotent and largely inept political opposition.

Why then is the Singaporean government so afraid of having a free Presidential election? Do they not trust Singaporean citizens to make a wise decision? Do they think that if the “wrong” person is elected President, it might bring about the downfall of the government? Please lah, got so powerful meh? Imagine this situation:

President: I want to see a complete and transparent report of the country.
Govt.: Ok sure but it will take us 4-5 years to prepare it.
President: But I’m only in power for 6 years.
Govt.: Yeah we know. Heng ah! Just shut up and come have some peanuts with us. You like peanuts right?

Even if The President of Singapore wants to act he or she must consult the Council of Presidential Advisors prior. From the Istana Singapore website:

The Council comprises six members, of whom two are appointed by the President at his discretion, two are the Prime Minister’s nominees, one is the Chief Justice’s nominee and the sixth, the nominee of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.

So out of 6 people, the President can count at most 2 people to be completely on his or her side. How much power do you really think he/she has?

Is this a symptom of the paternalism that is the Singaporean government? Is it another case of “we know what’s best for you and you should thank us for it”? But why? Because papa says so! It’s a total farce in my point of view that the government would have a committee to select who can run for the elections, and that its decisions are final and not open for argument.

Why carry on the pretense of an election? Why not just have the President chosen by the government? You would even save a few bucks by getting rid of the Presidential Elections Committee. While you are at it, get rid of the Presidential Advisors too because President already following your orders mah, what for need advisors?

All the money left over can then be spent on renaming public places, on the IRs (integrated resorts, ie. casinos) and outfitting the entire police force in riot gear because breaking up 4 ppl protesting is dangerous work ok???

Yup, why not indeed.


UPDATE 12:52PM
A more articulate argument can be found at coup de grace.

13 thoughts on “Singaporean Presidential Elections

  1. Miss L

    At least the President has power of veto. That’s a lot more than what the Agung has. Agung is constitutionally enshrined as Parliament’s lapdog, unlike in Australia, where the Governor-General is Parliament’s implied lapdog.

    Head’s of State… why do they even bother?

    Reply
  2. mooiness

    starry: largely symbolic but highly unusual in that his powers are absolutely curtailed by the “Council of Presidential Advisors”. Like I said, why go through the pretense of free elections and an independent President when it’s not really the case.

    miss L: the Agong is not selected by the Government (it is rotated amonog the nine Sultanates of Malaysia) and they do have the power to dissolve Parliament (just like the Governor General of Australia – whose power has been used such before) unlike the President of Singapore – they can dismiss ministers but they can’t just dissolve the government. More at the Istana Singapore website.

    Reply
  3. mooiness

    honeypot: exactly. Why go through all the trouble and spending all that money? My thoughts: look we know you are not democratic and you can’t really fool us so we much rather see you spend the money on more worthwhile causes ok? You can start by spending more on taking care of the old folks and the homeless.

    Reply
  4. honeypot

    Hiding behind silkscreens seems to be the way to go for politicians in Asia. They think we stupid or what?
    This is my fav part:
    “… the decision of the Presidential Elections Committee in awarding the Certificate of Eligibility is final, and is not subject to an appeal or review in court.”

    Basically curtails the whole democracy process.

    Re: Govt mindlessly wasting money.When you come home next, you need to visit Putrajaya. Lamp posts costs RM400 each.And that is just for the ‘design’ on it. Bridges over artificial streams costing tens of thousands. Like…you go and spend all the taxpayers money to build fake streams and lakes not enough.Spend more money to build superstar-styled bridges.

    Its like spending money digging a hole and refilling it again.
    again..aaargh

    Reply
  5. mooiness

    Build fake streams and rivers then have to build a bridge over it? Wahahaha…shit. Why can’t they just build a nice road??? The mind boggles.

    I’m going back in Dec actually. I don’t know if I will make my way out to Putrajaya or Cyberjaya tho. See how. 😛

    Reply
  6. honeypot

    Other than gawking at superbly constructed bridges and lamp posts (every road has a different design,mind you) there’s nothing much to see other than barren land and dust.

    Oh, and the roads are quite nice actually.But road signs are typically malaysian..they tell you to turn AFTER you’ve missed it by 500m.

    Reply
  7. honeypot

    Another favourite past time of the Roadworks Dept is to plant huge trees in front of road signs.

    Inefficiencies of the government..sigh. But then, if it is a sign to a PAYING/Toll road..whoa..road signs asking you to turn from 10 miles away. Then as soon as you leave the highway..the confusing shite starts again.

    Reply
  8. Miss L

    I believe the Malaysian Constitution stipulates that the Agung must act on the advice of Parliament. i can’t quote the exact article. whereas the Australian Constitution makes no such stipulation, but as a matter of Constitutional Convention, it is generally accepted as the case. That’s what i was alluding to.

    Furthermore, the dissolution of Parliament By G-G Kerr is a very contentious and controversial issue, even today, as to its constitutionality.

    Reply
  9. mooiness

    miss L: yeah well at least the option is available to the Agung and the G-G, but not to the Singaporean Prez. Therein lies the biggest joke of them all. 🙂

    The role is already so neutered but yet the Sg govt. still don’t feel comfortable enough to allow free elections to this post.

    Reply

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