Halimah Yacob’s Walkover To Presidency Means We’re Living A Sham Democracy

With the announcement of Madam Halimah Yacob’s sole eligibility for Presidential Elections 2017, the fallout makes for very interesting viewing. Lots of ordinary citizens are making their voices known, from the use of #notmypresident to people blanking out their Facebook profile pictures in protest.

But maybe all we need is a little history lesson, to provide more context on what’s happening before our eyes.

Poet/playwright/general artist Alfian Sa’at has stepped up to give up the lesson we all need.

From the NCMP scheme, to the GRC system, to the more recent Reserved Election, there just seems to be various schemes in place to ensure that our democracy is limited. No wonder Alfian is so miffed.

So it is a walkover. Singaporeans will not need to vote for their next President. True to form; a long, iniquitous history of rigging the system. From third world to first economically, and the reverse politically–the country’s lurched from minimalist electoral democracy to illiberal democracy to sham democracy.

He then moves on to point out the various ways that the goalposts have moved almost as a direct response to various events that happened in history.

After JB Jeyaretnam won Anson in 1981’s by-election, they introduced the Non-constituency MP (NCMP) scheme in 1984.

After both JB Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong won seats in 1984, they introduced the GRC system in 1988.

After Low Thia Khiang won Hougang in 1991 and the SDP won 3 constituencies, they increased the size of GRCs from 3-4 to 5-6 in the 1997 GE.

After the WP won Aljunied in 2011, they announced changes to the Town Council Act.

After President Ong Teng Cheong became president in 1993 and questioned them about the reserves, they went back and changed the Constitutional powers of the Elected President in 1994, which allowed the govt to bypass the president’s scrutiny when statutory boards and Government companies transfer their reserves to the Government.

And now, after Tan Cheng Bock almost won the last presidential election, they have – once again – gone back to change the Constitution, to introduce the “Reserved Election” which allows them to bar all Chinese from such an election, including someone like Dr Tan.

And finally, while the Elected President is said to be a check on the (PAP) Government of the day, all 4 Elected Presidents so far are either ex-PAP ministers (Ong Teng Cheong, Tony Tan, Halimah Yacob, presuming she wins in September), or from the Government’s ranks (SR Nathan).

Coincidence? Or #OwnselfCheckOwnself taken to its shameless extreme?

The quote first appeared on an article on Andrew Loh’s website, Publichouse.sg. With Halimah set to be our 8th president, we now have 4 Elected Presidents (out of 4) with links to PAP or the Government — a statistic that doesn’t make for great reading, considering the President is supposed to be nonpartisan in nature.

Featured Image via SG50election