I’m Alson Yee, I’m in junior college this year, and I’ve been asked to write about the elected presidency.
What’s a presidency anyway? It’s like you randomly slapped on a “cy” at the end of the word just to make it sound cute. Even then, it doesn’t make the subject sound any more appealing.
But you’re not here to listen to me rant, so let’s get to work.
The President of the Republic of Singapore is a ceremonial head of state broadly analogous to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, but the 1991 constitutional amendments gave the President certain reserve powers over government expenditure of financial reserves and appointments to key public offices. The President’s official residence is the Istana.
Ceremonial means the president has no powers, am I right? Wikipedia says our president is like the Queen of England. Of course, being the sexist Chinese Confucian country we are, we’ve never had a female president before. But the point is that the president’s main job is to walk around, smile at cameras and shake hands at events isn’t it?
So why does it really matter who gets to be president? Through my research I found that everyone’s talking about Mr Tan Cheng Bock, a popular pro-opposition former PAP MP (wow, talk about being two-faced!). They say that the government’s really afraid of someone like Mr Tan and that they’re changing the rules to make it impossible for Mr Tan to contest.
But does it really matter whether we elect a president who’s pro-opposition or pro-whatever? He’s just a ceremonial figure, right? I mean, sure he can say, “No I won’t let you spend any money” or “I don’t want you to appoint this guy to the cabinet”, but seriously has that ever happened?
I don’t think so.
The last guy who did something like that was Mr Ong Teng Cheong, who fought the government bitterly about his right to know how much money the government was actually keeping in their big ass piggy bank known as the reserves. Something which I don’t think he was allowed to do under the law, so he got rapped for it and now everyone who hates the government loves him for it. Oh, did I mentioned that Mr Ong was also another PAP man turned pro-opposition guy!?
(What’s up with you PAP people anyway? Do you all like grow a conscience after leaving the party or something? I mean even Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s sister is going all “I hate you Lee Hsien Loong and PAP” after Mr Lee Kuan Yew died.)
What does offend me is this whole minority president thing. I mean, we’re supposed to be “one people, one nation regardless of race, language or religion”, am I right or am I right? So why all this talk about electing minority presidents from “time to time”? And what do you mean from “time to time”, shouldn’t everyone regardless of race be eligible to be elected ALL the time?
If we’re lacking in minority candidates, then I say the problem lies in the qualifying rounds of the election, so all we should be doing is to ensure that all racial groups get a fair number of candidates into the qualifying pool before we put them up for election.
I mean seriously, we ended up with four Chinese guys named “Tan” in the last president’s election. Surely we can do better and throw in someone just as capable from the Indian and Malay community too, right?
In all honesty, I won’t be able to vote for another three more years. I probably won’t even be able to vote in the upcoming president election. But I’m looking forward to casting my vote for someone who speaks to me and represents my interests, not because it’s cool to cast my vote against so-and-so or because everyone hates them.
That basically means I’d vote for you regardless of the colour of your skin… because racism is so passe.
Alson Yee is from a local junior college and is proud to be among a team of young journalists writing for The Singapore Daily.