“Singaporeans have always known that our politicians… consider themselves superior beings,” said writer Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh. “Now, with this reserved presidency, we have irrefutable proof about just how stupid they think we are.”
The farce that is the Reserved Election will, once again, prove the PAP right.
Singaporeans are a stupid bunch.
They will wail and beat their chests, they may even pull their hair out and – as the Chinese would say – “cry father cry mother” when things go wrong, or when the Government does not perform to expectation. But you can also count on the same Singaporeans to timidly and unquestioningly hand over their votes to the same ruling party they complain about when the time comes, which is once every 5 years.
So, it is the same here, in this instance.
Halimah Yacob is now the president. We all make noise everywhere, especially online. We decry the unfairness, the “wayang”, the rigged system, to ensure she ascends without any obstacles in her way, to the throne.
We are well aware of how in 2011, the PAP was shocked and frightened by the near-victory of Tan Cheng Bock, and the inquisitive and combative attitudes of the other candidates (Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say), that the PAP was determined to change the laws to fence them out this time round.
We are well aware that the plan was then hatched to change the constitution, and to do so just barely a year before the next presidential election, so that there is little time for anyone to debate it in any detail.
And so we saw how, on 15 January 2016, President Tony Tan opened Parliament and said how “this system must be refreshed from time to time, as our circumstances change”. He called on the Government to “study this matter carefully, to see whether and how we should improve our political system…”
The President’s speech, if you do not know, is actually written and given to him to read by the Prime Minister, laying out the Government’s direction in this new term.
In lightning speed, 12 days later, on 27 January, a constitutional commission was appointed, chaired by the Chief Justice, to “review” the Elected President scheme.
7 months later, in August 2016, the Commission completes its review of the scheme.
The next month, on 7 September, it issues its final report and recommendations to the Government.
On the same day, 7 September, the Government accepts the recommendations, on principle.
1 week later, on 15 September, the Government issues the White Paper on the changes to the Elected President scheme.
Over 3 days, from 7 to 10 November, Parliament debated the changes.
At the end of the debate, the changes were approved.
January to November – not even a year – and the changes were made.
Singapore would have a Reserved Election,
The next election would be for Malay candidates only.
Candidates from the private sector would have to meet a higher ceiling, of having helmed companies with shareholders’ equity of $500m or more, upped from $100m.
How many from the minority communities will qualify? Few, it seems. Very very few.
Conveniently, the Government rejected the Commission’s recommendations to increase the length of time in office of those in the public sector – from 3 years to 6 years – before they would qualify to run for the presidency.
Too cumbersome, the government said.
If it was accepted, Halimah Yacob would not have qualified. She had only been in her Speaker’s role for 41/2 years.
2 months later, in January, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing, addressed Halimah Yacob as “Mdm President” during a parliamentary session. He did it not once, but twice.
By July, Halimah Yacob herself put the word out that she was “considering” running for the presidency.
The next month, on 7 August, she resigned her post as Speaker, and announced her candidacy.
1 month later, on 11 September, the Presidential Election Committee (PEC), disqualifies 2 other candidates, leaving Halimah Yacob as the sole, unchallenged, candidate left standing.
2 days later, she is declared the President of Singapore.
So, how long does it take to install a new president under new rules?
10 months – from the time Parliament approved the changes to the Act to the time Halimah Yacob was declared the President.
Along the way, the Government declared:
- Wee Kim Wee as the first Elected President, editing out Ong Teng Cheong who was the first Elected President to go through an actual election campaign
- It will not disclose the Attorney General’s advice on why Wee Kim Wee should be counted as the first EP, despite calls from MPs and the public for the PM to disclose the advice.
- That MP Sylvia Lim should “challenge this in the courts” if Ms Lim thought that the Attorney-General did not give the government appropriate advice when recommending Wee Kim Wee as the first elected president.
- There will be no by-election held in Halimah Yacob’c GRC after she steps down
On 28 August, Sylvia Lim filed an adjournment motion to speak on the topic of the Elected President, after the Court of Appeal dismissed Tan Cheng Bock’s case. Ms Lim would be slated to make her speech on 11 September.
Her submission was, however, denied when she lost out in a ballot. It turned out that 2 other PAP MPs had also filed adjournment motions, apparently after Ms had done so, on the same day. This was a rather unusual thing – to have 3 adjournment motions filed on the same day.
For the uninitiated, adjournment motions are a rarity, not the norm.
This entire series and sequence of events (recorded here by this blogger) is highly suspicious to some. They look like events specifically engineered for very targeted aims and reasons, namely:
- To disqualify Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who came within a whisker of winning the contest in 2011, Dr Tan had also declared he will contest the next election (this year)
- To disqualify Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say from running again
- To ensure an unquestioning President who will not make life difficult for the new PM, slated to be take over at the next general election
- To ensure a complete hold on all levers of power
On 18 January, after President Tan had made his call for the political system to be “refreshed”, Law professor Eugene Tan wrote in the TODAY newspaper:
He has clearly underestimated the speed at which bureaucrats can work, and how even if the PAP would “pay a political price” for ramming this through, it does not care one bit.
Because they know Singaporeans forget, and that Singaporeans are stupid. They will vote the PAP each time, and every time. The PAP just needs to throw crumbs at their feet and they will lap it up.
Or the PAP will just need to frighten them with tales and fantasies of apocalyptic consequences if they do not vote the PAP – you know, our women will become maids in other countries, the value of your HDB flats will dive, our economy will go into a tailspin, our reserves will be raided by the opposition.
Your whole world will collapse if you do not vote the PAP.
The lapdog mainstream media will be complicit, as they have always been, in propagating such nonsense, even as the facts show otherwise.
But Singaporeans are stupid.
You can slap them hard on the face and they will still come back to you, dependent on you, even worship you as a mini-god of sorts.
That’s what the PAP thinks.
Singaporeans are stupid.
Why else would they dare to do things so blatantly, time after time, without a care? They claim they will lose political capital over this fiasco. They will not. Why?
Because Singaporeans will vote for them again in 2020 otherwise our whole world will go up in smoke.
Singaporeans are stupid.
That’s what the PAP thinks.
And with 69.9% of Singaporeans continuing to vote for the PAP, who could blame them for thinking that way?
This joke of a Reserved Election, and the way the path was cleared for Halimah Yacob to “win”, should wake us all up, but alas, we won’t.
You know the answer.
*Cartoons from Seijieiga blog.