Friday, August 26, 2011

The elected President will have considerable moral authority but should not aspire to be our moral authority.

So we will have our Presidential Elections today. Very exciting because it is a very significant milestone in our political development. I like the political awakening I see yet I remain somewhat concerned that this new political energy has been too enthusiastically injected into this presidential contest. Wasn't it supposed to have been a non-partisan affair? But then, I suppose, any kind of election will inevitably be 'political'. By this logic then, the very act of creating the elected presidency had already begun politicization the highest office in our country. Even though it was not intended to be, it has become the new reality.

Instead of being a purely ceremonial position, the Presidency has now become a lightning rod for all kinds of things. Because of the political energy that has been vested into electing the President, regardless of what the Constitution tries to curtail, the elected President will receive a considerable moral authority to do and say things. This authority must come with responsibility. The elected President must realize that notwithstanding the electioneering and promises made in the heat of the moment, the Presidency is a position that must chiefly unify and inspire. He must try and embody all the noble values that will bring us together as a united citizenry.

But should he speak up for all kinds of perceived wrongs and champion pet causes? Though we may wish it to be, I believe he should not. This is not to say he cannot support community based projects and causes. But that he should be careful not be a social activist for causes which may be controversial and divide the society. Can the President be the standard bearer for justice and morality in our society? To be the heart....or voice ....of the people? I don't think so. Because, how is he to decide what is just and unjust,what is moral and what not? The election does not confer upon him the supernatural ability to make those judgements for the rest of us. So inevitably, to place himself on a pedestal to champion a particular position in such causes will cause him to elevate some ... and in the process, decrease some. And make the position open to all kinds of political lobbying. He should therefore ask himself if such activities serve to unite or to divide.

When we elect the President, we willingly confer upon him the moral authority to assume the highest position in our land, but this does not make him eligible to be the authority for our morals.


Anonymous said...

Morality is self-discipline,
it does not come from another
And for humankind, it is always
do as I say and not do as I did
or I am going to do lah, as far as moral authority is concerned


Anonymous said...

What kind of beast do you expect the EP to be?

You have not tried at all to come to grips with the issue and obviously gave practically no ideas.

You have attempted to advance what the EP cannot/should not/ought not, to be. What are you left with? My impression is 'the govt' - everything that the govt is/will be, would be where the EP would be found!

So, why bother to have Singaporeans elect the EP. Answer:The govt wants to have the cake and eat it. There is in fact already notice given by some Singaporeans in the form of the 36,000 spolit votes. Not all were trying to message the govt, but IMO, that number is too large to attribute to the usual 'wastages' in an exercise of this sort.

Anonymous said...

"You have not tried at all to come to grips with the issue ...."

So in your opinion, what's the issue? That the EP is supposed to be a second door, so that if you cannot make it in the GE you can always come back and contest the PE and be a super MP that sits year round, out of parliament, to take pot shots at gov policy?

Even though I do not agree with gov policies, I cannot support such a position. This is not the constitutional intent, and unfortunately was what TJS campaigned on, at least initially. He lost votes because that perception stuck.

36000 spoilt votes? People spoil votes deliberately because they cannot support any of the candidates' positions, including those purporting to be the heart, or conscience of the people.

So I think it is you who need to come to grips with the issue.

Anonymous said...

"That the EP is supposed to be a second door, ... "

Oh yes, I have - we have a 'minority' EP!
How's that for size?

Don't put words in others mouth. If that's how YOU see things, that it's your opinion! Don't hang it on other's.

'Constitution intent' of the govt? Let me say that the govt has an intent, and it is by no means 'constitutional'. It's intent is clearly undemocratic for one, otherwise, it wouldn't have 'endorse' TT from top to bottom. It is supposed to be a free election BY Singaporeans, so what rationale or justification and in fact, cheek, for it to come out 'endorsing' as well as behind the scene instigating unions, associations even employers' group to 'endorse' TT. They clearly has NO business or right to do this. A proper reading of the law should find such actions ultra vires and an illegal interference with the process. Of course, since when has this govt ever fight clean and won anything on the basis of its true record?

By the way, what is your 'grip' on this?

Anonymous said...

Superbrand Cheesepie says:-

PAP saw its margin of survival plummet from 20% in the recent GE (60% ayes less 40% nays = 20% margin) to a razor-thin 0.34% (being the lead DTT had over TCB). 65% of Singaporeans also voted against DTT.

Had the PM done the following before PE2011:-
(i) reduced ministerial pay by 65%
(ii) reduced Presidential pay by 60%
(iii) pledged to solve flooding by 2015
(iv) relieve the congestion on MRT & buses
(v) made a quantative pledge on imposing a quota on foreign influx
(vi) produced HARD EVIDENCE PROOF of what DTT’s kids really did during NS to rebut all the malicious smears circulating on internet blogs and chatrooms
(vii) promised all Singaporeans that they would be able to withdraw their CPF special a/c and medisave during their lifetimes and not after

then DTT’s votes may rise to 90% and storm into Istana as a clear victor. As it is, DTT’s pathetic 0.34% margin of victory (if you could call it that!) is now a clear indictment of the collapsing moral authority of the PAPists. Less than one-third of a percentage point LESS, and DTT might have lost. 65% of Singaporeans have also repudiated DTT as their president.

DTT – should be aware of this:- If Your Excellency walk into a hall of Singaporeans you can expect 65% of them not to stand up for you. You better avoid uncontrolled public gatherings for awhile. Stick to PAPists-controlled occasions with all seats and bleaches stuffed with die die diehard PAPist loyalists.

If I were the PM, I would take this very very seriously and hold a huge PAPist corporate retreat to have a proper honest soul-searching to see why this is so. There are lost opportunities aplenty.

Anonymous said...

Gigamole says:
Agree with your comments re the falling support for hardcore PAP associated leadership. TT's win is only relative and it is imperative that PAP reviews and re-strategises if it is not to lose next GE.

However if we are to claim that we are a mature electorate, we must also accept the results of the elections even if it went against what we individually would have preferred. TT won legitimately and we should accept that outcome.

After all if TJS had won by same margin, you would have trumpeted the victory and expected all S'poreans to unite behind him.