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Vote for One President, Get Only 20 Percent of a President?

Dear friends,

Forget “give a chicken wing, take back one whole chicken”.

How about “vote for one president, get 20% of a president”?

When Singaporeans voted in PE2023 this Sept, they chose a president they believed would devote himself whole-heartedly to making good on his campaign promises to the people.

Now, we find that that the president, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, will not be made to give up at least 4 other leadership appointments in international organisations.

And the government changes the Constitution so that he does not need to give up those positions.

Adding to that, the government made sure to also change the Constitution to legitimise ministers doing the same.

All this in done in the president and ministers’ “private capacities” says DPM Lawrence Wong.

Yet, our tax dollars will fund their business trips as a matter of “national interest”.

Maybe, in the future, we will also “vote one minister, get 20 percent of a minister” and still be made to fund their private capacity trips.

What is interesting is how Mr Tharman said before PE2023 that will “continue to hold on to some international appointments even after the election”.

Because, as he said, it is “in our national interests”.

Coincidentally, or not, contributing to “national responsibilities” was an important part of DPM Lawrence Wong’s justification for changing the Constitution.

You can forgive Singaporeans for perceiving this move by the government as pre-planned and rehearsed.

Suddenly, according to DPM Wong, “A key role of the President is Singapore’s top diplomat.”

Nowhere is this mentioned on the Istana website – that the president should take on such a diplomat role in his personal capacity.

If this truly is a “key role”, then all of our past presidents – including Halimah Yacob and Tony Tan – must have been sleeping on the job for $1.5 million a year in salary.

Speaking of Mdm Halimah – recall that our Constitution was also amended to make PE2017 a “reserved election” for Malays only.

Until today, there are still rumblings that this was done to block then-independent candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock from contesting.

If lightning can strike once, twice, it can strike again.

It’s time to stop the PAP-led government from changing our sacred Constitution as and when it suits their purpose.

Desmond Lim
Singapore Democratic Alliance

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