The President must be above politics. I don’t understand why some people can’t see that.
The President must not be pro-PAP. Neither should he be anti-PAP. He must be someone whom all political factions can respect and support.
There are some people advocating that the President do more to speak up for the people and engage the Govt. But that is precisely something the Constitution does not empower him to do.
Unlike criminal laws which specify what is forbidden, the Constitution specifies not only what cannot be done, but also what can be done. The President is granted powers only in specific areas: to safeguard past reserves, check corruption and ensure the integrity of the Civil Service.
Hence those who claim that the President is free to speak his mind because the Constitution does not forbid it are wrong, both in the letter and the spirit of the law.
The President can’t speak up against the Govt simply because the Constitution does not empower him to do so. That is a job for the Parliamentary Opposition, which is empowered to question the Govt, and has the powers to bring down the Govt if necessary by calling for a no-confidence motion.
Any President who speaks up against the Govt would be trampling on the role of Parliamentary Opposition. Not only that, he would also violate the spirit of the law, because the moment he makes any kind of political commentary, he will have failed in his duty to be above politics.
From our politicians we expect politicking, debate and acrimony– and sometimes defamation suits. From our President we expect integrity, dignity, wisdom, fairness and most of all, no politics.
If a President throws his hat into the ring, the Govt will almost certainly issue a rebuttal, and from then on the President will no longer be able to stay above politics.
There is a reason why neutral nations always abstain from voting at the UN, and they never speak up. That is the spirit and the price of neutrality.