23 September 2017

Understanding Singapore's 2017 reserved presidential election: an introduction

Image courtesy of Shawn Byron Danker
We extend our thanks to Dr Tony Tan for his service to the nation, and to Mdm Halimah Yacob for making history as the first female president of Singapore.

Mdm Halimah is a legitimate president, however compromised her mandate may be, however her office has been tainted by the PAP's management of the presidency and the election.

More than a week after her inauguration, the Minilee government continues to fight a PR battle to claw back the trust and public goodwill it squandered and to salvage the credibility of the presidency, while public anger at the PAP and incredulity at its error of judgement remain unabated.

The issue will not go away, nor will the public anger be truly abated or assuaged. The appropriation of #notmypresident and continued attacks on Halimah's Yishtana House are just the beginning, and not the fading scream of some sore losers. This PR battle will last beyond the tenure of Mdm Halimah, or indeed that of prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Because you see, the problems with the post of the elected president are written in its DNA and made worse by the PAP's continued tinkering with the office.

Granted, the elected presidency has existed for almost 25 years. Why the anger now? Is it because of a growing opposition, which has taken over this issue in its eternal struggle against the PAP? Or the growing incompetence of a ruling party entrust with more mandate than it can be trusted to handle?

Over the course of the coming week, we analyse how the PAP has created a presidency that suffers from internal contradictions, undermined it further, heaped more problems on its back. We will analyse the narratives of the election, from the PAP's Authorised Revised Version as well as the commonfolk.

These are the tentative titles of our coming posts on this (non)election. The summaries will be released 6 hours before publication of each post.

Before the reservation: Inherent conflicts within the presidency
Was the elected presidency doomed from the start?

LKY’s vision of a president who can say no.
LKY's clawback of LKY’s vision, continued by Goh and Minilee
Long constitutional regression towards the mean
Presidency as sinecure for loyal ministers and senior civil servants

Did the PAP did break the elected presidency even further in the last update?

Did the PAP reject meritocracy?
Why do different state authorities define Malay differently?
Did the PAP reject Singapore's multiracial model?
Did the structure and process of the racially reserved election bring out the worst in everyone?

We the people: Did Singaporeans rise to the occasion? Measuring the narratives
Before the people: Did the PAP rise to the occasion? Measuring the narratives

Rethinking the presidency: If you didn’t get it right the first time, try, try again!

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