ELECTING SINGAPORE’S 8TH PRESIDENT

 

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will complete his distinguished service to Singapore as the 7th President of the Republic come 31 August 2017. And the next election to choose the 8th President of Singapore has already been set into motion. One thing is for sure, Singapore’s next President will come from the Malay community and we all know that. So there is no need for me to flog that issue about the Constitutional Commission’s report and the subsequent Parliamentary debate about this. But before we look at the upcoming election, let us do an important and honourable thing which most of us seem to have forgotten having being embroiled in the “You Malay Or Not” debate or let us call it gossip also.

Thank You President Tony Tan   

And yes, I am talking about thanking President Tony Tan for his contributions to the country. He has no doubt continued with the tradition of previous Presidents of being People’s President staying close to the ground. Each year, the President’s Challenge continues to raise funds for the needy and less fortunate. President Tan has also spent much time visiting many institutions to keep himself abreast of development and one needs to just go through his official Facebook page for updates of these visits and the thoughts he shares with the public after the visits. On the international scene, Dr Tan and Mrs Tan have distinguished themselves as great statespersons, flying the Singapore flag high wherever they have gone for State Visits. For all this, we sat A Big Thank You to President and Mrs Tan.

The 8th President of Singapore    

So we all know that Singapore’s 8th President will be a Malay. Let us not waste time arguing about the legitimacy of the next election being called a “reserved election.” The law has been passed and now we need to get confirmation on who are the candidates vying for the post, when is Nomination Day and if there is a contest when will Singaporeans go to the polls in September. Singaporeans are also keen to hear from the contesting candidates what they will be standing for in the elections and what they hope to achieve when elected to the highest post of the land. From my brief understanding of past Presidential election campaigns- the President does not make policies. That is the job of the government. So far we have heard of three candidates confirming their intent to stand for the elections or expressing interest but yet to confirm and still checking with family, friends and close confidants.  I reckon all the names should firm up during the National Day week and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would probably call for the election with the announcement of the dates just after his National Day Rally (NDR) speech on 20 August 2017. This avoids distractions and ensures Singaporeans stay focussed on the issues which PM will touch on during the NDR.

Some Distractions 

But even before the heat is on, there are already some distractions side tracking the upcoming Presidential election.

Suddenly so many people have become pundits and experts in defining who is a Malay in Singapore and many seem to have definitions on whom they think is not a Malay.

Actually, to be frank, nobody asked you all for a definition. There is a special committee under the Presidential Elections Act to check all these things and make a declaration and issue the Community Certificate so no need to get so excited about this and pretend many of you know what makes up a Malay to be called and certified a Malay. Let us first wait for the finalised names and let the candidates do what they have to do to get the necessary certifications!

Most recently an ex  MP from the ruling People’s Action Party argued on Facebook that getting sitting MPs from the PAP to resign and stand for the PE is not something accepted by the people. Well, three Presidential candidates came from the PAP.

The late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, current President Dr Tony Tan and let us not forget one of his contenders too, Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

And the people made their choice, didn’t they?

And finally the by-election argument for Marsiling-Yew Tee in the event Madam Halimah Yacob decides to stand for the Presidential Election. Though not a big distraction yet, I am sure it will catch fire with the opposition and the anti-Singapore government  social media and human rights champions. The laws on this are clearly spelt out and I am sure the PM will make his call on this when the time comes or if the need arises.

Well for now, Singaporeans definitely won’t be confused with four “Tans” this time round on the ballot paper if a contest looms for the Presidential election. The candidates for sure will come with different names, this time Malay names!

 

 

About the author

RS Rama

RS Rama has covered political news and Parliamentary budget sittings for nearly 25 years and continues to be a keen watcher on political developments and issues that matter to the man in the street in Singapore.

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