Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Consummate Joker

Dr Tony Tan won the presidential election by a razor-edge 35.20 per cent of the votes narrowly beating Dr Tan Cheng Bok. Morally, though not stated in the Constitution, there should have been a run-off between these two candidate as neither managed to obtain an absolute majority in the first round. It would have frightened the shit out of the PAP leaders as it was obvious that their pet candidate Dr Tony Tan would not have stood an earthly chance against the more popular Dr Tan Cheng Bok in a run-off. So Dr Tony Tan managed to emerge the winner  by the slimmest of margin in the first past the post system of the Westminister model. An obsequious supporter had described his victory as an overwhelming mandate which is the acme of ludricrousness.

At best Dr Tony Tan can claim to represent only 35.20 per cent of the electorate as a minority president and could hardly claim to have a mandate  in the strict sense of the word.He can be said to be a lame-duck president as if a referendum is taken an overwhelming majority would have repudiated him. The PAP has happily inherited him as he is their pet candidate and so we are stuck with the comical spectacle of a minority president performing the presidential functions of the State. Of course the precarious President Tony Tan could not afford to show any queasiness in performing his official functions as this would have given the game away. Outwardly, he receives the proper respect from foreign dignitaries but whether they harbour any belittling feeling would be an interesting point as they may find it a unique experience interacting with a minority president.

Dr Tony Tan has so far not shown that he has the making of a people's president in the manner of the late President Wee Kim Wee. In fact he seems to be living under the shadow of former President SR Nathan, who was himself not an illustrious president. When asked by reporters what was his achievement in his first year as president, the joker President Tony Tan showed incredible naivety to say comically that watching the Olympic in London was his best achievement so far. Can one imagine paying a president millions of dollars a year from the taxpayers' money to watch Olympic in London and to top it all he claims this to be his best achievement in his first year in office. This is a typical example of the wanton wastage of the taxpayers' money and by a minority president. Former President SR Nathan, who was not a minority president, would have shown more prudence and commen sense than the minority President Tony Tan in matters of propriety..

With all his political experience, it would not be a surprise if President Tony Tan would make further gaffes like his political master Lee Kuan Yew. Even without his gaffes,his chances of re-election as president, if he stands again after his present term expires, would be as dark as a photographer's dark room. He would not stand an earthly chance next time when he faces a more popular candidate like Dr Tan Cheng Bok. He may see the writing on the wall and may quietly fall into oblivion.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Is the National Conversation a charade or parody?

There has been so much publicity about the over-hyped National Conversation, a brainchild of PM Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally, that there is a danger that it is bordering on the ad nauseam. The reason is that the Committee spearheading the National Conversation is so heavily loaded with PAP political office holders, headed by Minister Heng Swee Kiat, that it gives the unmistakable impression that it is just a PAP government show to appease the rising anger of the electorate over a litany of unpopular PAP policies among which unrestrained immigration and import of foreign talents take prominence. The PAP wallahs vowed blindly that the National Conversation must be as inclusive as possible but only that they gave a lie to the word inclusive because no opposition representatives or bloggers were appointed to the Committee. The Acting Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who is on the Committee, gave a far-fetched excuse that the National Conversation was not meant to be "partisan". Only PAP supporters will believe him.

How can it be called a National Conversation when an important and essential segment of the society such as the opposition parties and bloggers is excluded? Would it not be a misnomer? With the Committee heavily planted with PAP political office holders, would it not be reasonable for the non pro-PAP public to view this as a "wayang kulit" (Indonesian puppet show) and that whatever decision taken by the National Conversation is a foregone conclusion of pseudo support of unpopular PAP government policies?

Recently, an ardent activist has written a missive to Minister Heng Swee Kiat giving a long list of PAP misdeeds of a autocratic nature to ensure its dominance in politics. For instance, he wants the GRC to be reduced from the mega five or six-man team to a three-man team to give the opposition a better chance to compete. He wants the removal of former PAP ministers from helming the Singapore Press Holdings to remove political control of the press. The astronimical ministerial salary is another issue. A run-off for presidential election should tbere be no candidate with an absolute majority in the first round. These are just a few examples of the long list of demands and apparently Minister Heng has given a reply to the author which however has not been seen in public.The reply should be of interest to the public because it shows the sincerity or otherwise of the PAP government in looking after the interests of the people. Minister Heng will be doing a service to the public if he publishes his reply on his facebook or other website for the public to consider. The long list of demands of the author is quite intimidating to the PAP which could put the minister in a dilemma and stretch his ingenuity to the liimit to respond adequately.

The National Conversation will at best be an exercise in futility because of exclusion of important segments of the society. Aborting it is out of the question because of the loss of face to the Government, in particular to PM Lee Hsien Loong, so the "wayang" will go on regardless. Minister Heng will have an unenviable task of bringing some semblance of authenticity to the over-hyped National Conversation so as not to let down the sanguine PM Lee.