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Candidates With More Finance Experience Than Halimah Yacob Disqualified

In what is not an unexpected outcome on Monday, Halimah Yacob was the only candidate for the Reserved Election to be given the green light by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC). By default, and since the other two candidates’ application to contest the election were rejected, Halimah Yacob will become Singapore’s 8th President. She qualifies because of her tenure as Speaker of Parliament from 2013 to August 2017. The other 2 candidates, Farid Khan and Salleh Marican, did not qualify because they were deemed to have not fulfilled the criterion of having managed a company of shareholder equity of at least $500m. The Elected President is supposed to be the “second key” to Singapore’s financial reserves, and he or she must thus possess substantial financial knowledge in order to carry out the constitutional duties of oversight. It is thus ironic that while the two men, who have more financial experience and expertise than Halimah Yacob, are disqualified from running, while Halimah Yacob is a shoo-in although she does not have the financial experience required to carry out the job of the Elected President. How do we know this? Consider her time spent as Speaker, and the budget of Parliament itself.…
lhl

Pm Lee’s Position Untenable

Singaporeans have been transfixed by the ongoing war of words between the children of the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). While there have been much said by both sides, one thing the two parties agree on is this: the dispute, or feud, is no longer a “petty” family affair. “The main message is not Hsien Yang & I fearing what PM will do to us,” Dr Lee Wei Ling, daughter of LKY said in a Facebook post on 15 June, a day after the explosive statement she and her brother, Lee Hsien Yang, released which set off the chain of attacks on PM Lee. “The most important point I want to put across is if PM can misuse his official power to abuse his siblings who can fight back, what else can he do to ordinary citizens,” Dr Lee said. PM Lee himself agreed that the matter was no longer about private family disagreements. “These allegations go beyond private and personal matters, and extend to the conduct of my office and the integrity of the Government,” PM Lee said in a statement posted on the PMO website on 19 June. Indeed, Lee Hsien Yang’s allegations have been…
prison

Hanged Because He Had Not “substantively Assisted” the Cnb

Mohd Jeefrey bin Ismail was hanged in the early hours of Friday morning, 21 April, at least according to the scheduled execution date given to his family by the Singapore Prison Service. He was executed after the Public Prosecutor decided that Jeefrey had not “substantively assisted” the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in “disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.” In Singapore, the authorities do not make public announcements of hangings, the preferred state-sanctioned killing method for those condemned to death. Lawyers for the inmates and anti-death penalty activists often have to guess if the executions have in fact been carried out. Executions are typically held just before dawn on Fridays. Jeefrey, 52, was a drug addict and trafficker, or courier, who was arrested in 2012 and subsequently sentenced to death for trafficking in excess of the statutory limit for the drug diamorphine. The only person who stood between him and the noose was the Public Prosecutor who, through powers vested in him by law, could have spared his life if he had issued a Certificate of Cooperation (COC) to Jeefrey. The COC would then allow Jeefrey to apply to the courts to have his death sentence commuted to life…

PM Goh Had Recognised Ong Teng Cheong as S’pore’s First Elected President

President Ong Teng Cheong passed away on 8 February 2002, at the age of 66. He had served as Singapore’s 5th president from 1993 to 1998. He was also the first president to contest in an open election after the Elected President scheme came into effect in 1991, during the tenure of his predecessor, President Wee Kim Wee. When President Ong passed away in 2002, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, representing the Government, wrote a condolence letter to President Ong’s eldest son, Ong Tze Guan. In his letter (see below), PM Goh expressed sadness at the passing of the former president. “He served as a Member of Parliament until 1993 when he resigned to stand in Singapore’s first presidential elections,” PM Goh wrote. “As the first elected President, Teng Cheong had to work the two-key system of safeguarding our reserves and key appointments in the public sector,” Mr Goh said and added, “We had no precedents to fall back on.” PM Goh acknowledged the difficulties the government at the time had with President Ong. “But Teng Cheong applied himself diligently and worked with the Government to come up with the rules and procedures,” PM Goh said. “His efforts helped…

“I’m Not Proud of This Project”: Philip Yeo on Suzhou Industrial Park

“This project will fail,” said Goh Keng Swee. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) project in the 1990s between the two countries was fraught with problems from the get-go. But few have spoken openly about them until now. In the book, “Neither Civil Nor Servant”, former chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB), Philip Yeo, shares why the project ran into so many issues that the majority ownership of the project was subsequently transferred from Singapore to China. Mr Yeo, known for his shoot-from-the-hip bluntness which is matched only by that of the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, opens up in the book by Peh Shing Huei, former China bureau chief at the Straits Times. “I didn’t want to get involved,” Mr Yeo said in the book when asked about the SIP. “I never asked for this project and never wanted it. I did it for Lee Kuan Yew.” “I’m not proud of this project,” said the man who has spent the better part of 40 years dedicated to his role as Singapore’s “salesman”, as he is sometimes referred to. The SIP project was the first-ever state-to-state collaboration which China had been involved in at the time, and…

Baying for a pound of flesh – and more

By Andrew Loh Can you take the life of someone, anyone, based on dubious arguments alone? It seems you can, from what our ministers said in Parliament recently on the changes to the mandatory death penalty. The amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), which Parliament approved, mean that drug traffickers can now be given the alternative sentence of life imprisonment and a minimum 15 strokes of the cane, instead of the death penalty. This sentence, however, is subject to two stringent conditions, as DPM Teo Chee Hean explained in Parliament in July: “First, the trafficker must have only played the role of courier, and must not have been involved in any other activity related to the supply or distribution of drugs. Second, discretion will only apply if having satisfied this first requirement, either the trafficker has cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau in a substantive way, or he has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act.” These stipulations by themselves raise many questions, some of which have been asked by MPs and which are left unanswered. For example, NMP Lawrence Lien raised an important point about punishment: “This ‘substantive assistance’ standard…

s377A – do not disturb?

Will Singapore see a constitutional challenge of Section 377A in court? “We do not proactively enforce Section 377A… [but] we have decided to keep the status quo on Section 377A. It is better to accept the legal untidiness and the ambiguity. It works, do not disturb it.” – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 23 October 2007. The 2007 debate in Parliament on Section 377A, which criminalises consensual sex between adult men, ended with PM Lee’s statement that the Government will retain this law because “a heterosexual stable family is a social norm… and we do not approve of [homosexuals] actively promoting their lifestyles to others, or setting the tone for mainstream society.” Striking a conciliatory tone, he added that “homosexuals too must have a place in this society, and they too are entitled to their private lives… We do not proactively enforce Section 377A.” Yet off the radar, this law was nevertheless used to prosecute and jail two men in September 2010. In the same month, another man was charged under s377A for sex in a public toilet. When this man’s lawyer M. Ravi filed an application challenging the constitutionality of s377A, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) removed the charge, substituting…