I think all the angst over the Presidency comes from too many people trying to package too many functions (let alone hopes and dreams) into one office, over an extended period of time in a trial-and-error evolutionary manner.
There are basically three ideas here:
– some person who can serve as a check and balance against a rogue cabinet and watch over our reserves, who must hence be super-qualified when it comes to $$$
– some person who is elected and has to do all these ceremonial baby-kissing and ribbon-cutting functions, who must hence be really ridiculously good-looking and well-spoken and suave and loved by everyone
– some person who represents the nation – and specific to Singapore, the minorities that underpin our fragile national rubric. We can extrapolate this at some level to not just race but also language or religion.
So if we were to redesign the whole damn thing from scratch, then aiyah, just have three people lah!
Grand High Poobah of Quant Bankers, Management Consultants and Startup Founders (App-only, SME no count). He/she should not be elected (heavens no) but instead have to satisfy a minimum personal net worth of $1b, a value-add factor (that means cannot just inherit daddy’s money) of at least 100%, and there of course will be minimum cut-offs in terms of PSLE score, L1R5, SATs, GREs, The Right Schools and all applicable financial exams. In him/her will be vested the power of IAD to strike fear into the hearts of all public finance sector managers.
Really Really Ridiculously Good-Looking. And capable of giving a kick-ass, inspiring, instantly-viral, crying-forever speech, which is a key skill set severely lacking in the office of our head of state. Must be able to kiss babies well and cut ribbons accurately. Would help if Olympic/Paralympic gold-medal winner, or at least second round of international singing contest. Elected by public vote, in the form of a pageant or gameshow, as this is clearly a popularity contest. Obviously we will put this one’s photo on all the school exam halls. Of course, no real duties.
Must be able to trace blood lineage to C, M, I and O. Must be conversant in all four national languages. Must have appropriate degree in religious studies with multiple concentrations. This one can probably be elected as the pool is quite small. Duties will consist of attending all racial group / linguistic group / religious group functions that require head-of-state representation. Can be allowed to give the occasional speech, in 4 languages.
See that wasn’t hard.
Joshua Ip is a poet, writer, editor and literary organiser with his own blog.