ST reported today (6 Aug) that Law Minister Shanmugam stated quite clearly that the President cannot speak on political matters outside of his executive powers, except upon advice of the Cabinet.
This is the same position as mine, which caused consternation among some readers.
Whether Shanmugam and I are right can only be finally decided by a Supreme Court Tribunal. What is more important is why some people feel that the Elected President must “speak up for the people”.
Obviously, there is much unhappiness with the PAP. There is a feeling that the President should be the channel for that unhappiness to be heard. Some people even feel that he must “stand up” to the PAP so that he can show his independence.
The question is why do people want the President to be a conduit for their sentiments, rather than opposition MP’s.
My view is that while these sentiments are strong and legitimate, the position being advocated is ineffective and not legitimate, not to mention unconstitutional.
I acknowledge the people’s unhappiness with the PAP, and their desire to have the President speak for them. But even if the President could scold the Govt, what is the point of doing so?
First, the President cannot veto any Govt action not relating to his powers, so he would basically be nothing than a loudspeaker. Do we really need a NATO President?
Second, the Cabinet would undoubtedly scold the President for being out of line, not to mention giving line-by-line rebuttals of whatever he says. That could go on and on.
Third, if the President continues his tirade, the Cabinet would act to remove him through Parliament, by using its 81-6 majority. They will most likely win.
What is the point of all this?
I hope people can see that the right people to oppose the PAP are the opposition. If you are unhappy with PAP, please vote more opposition MP’s in. These are your representatives who can stand up to scold PAP ministers in Parliament, can vote against Bills you don’t want, and can kick out the Govt via a no-confidence motion if need be.
If you’re voting for a President to speak up for you to the PAP, please ask yourself why you’re not voting for an MP to do that for you– and more.
Instead of wasting your votes on a President who doesn’t have the Constitutional powers to change anything, please vote for the parties you want to represent you in Parliament.
If you do it right, and if the other parties play their cards right, we can have a coalition govt– without the PAP– in 2016.
I’d rather have that than a NATO President any day!
NATO is Singapore slang for “No Action, Talk Only”