28 September 2017

Breaking the presidency and Singapore, straw by straw

The radical changes to the presidency that the People's Action Party mooted and enacted in 2016 have angered a public originally resigned to seeing the office incrementally remade at the whims of the PAP, for the convenience of the PAP. The old changes fooled no one into thinking they were designed to fix the problems of the presidency; the new changes fool very few as well.

In 2016 when the changes were mooted, it was expected that candidate Halimah, whose hat was thrown into the ring by class clown Chan Chun Seng, would have an easy walkover in the reserved election for a Malay president.

But it was the PAP's proxy campaign for candidate Halimah and its off-kilter messaging that convinced a large section of Singaporeans that the ruling party was intent on endangering the social fabric of Singapore itself, just to ensure a win for its candidate.

The PAP succeeded in wrecking the presidency far better than Wreck-it Ralph

25 September 2017

Before the reservation: The internal contradictions of Singapore's elected presidency

Lee Hsien Loong's People's Action Party (PAP) government began in 2016 its radical reforms to the elected presidency, a rush job of the highest order.

A case was made out for the necessity of the changes at the beginning of the year, a thoroughly respectable constitutional commission was convened, public and expert feedback was canvassed through the commission, the commission's report and recommendations pored through and discussed in cabinet, the cabinet's proposed Bill drafted as a response and debated, the Bill read twice and passed in parliament, the expected constitutional challenges and their respective appeals heard and fended off—all in an attempt to ensure the 2017 election would be run under new order rules. (Note: the exercise still ended missing a crucial deadline: Dr Tony Tan's presidency lapsed before his successor was elected.)

In justifying its shifting of the goalposts to engineer its win, Lee has forgotten what was really wrong with the office of the elected presidency to begin with, and has failed to fix it.

Bob the Builder would've done a better job fixing the elected presidency

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.

15 September 2017

No kiss and make-up: Sonny Liew and Singapore's National Arts Council

After Sonny Liew won several Eisner awards for the graphic novel which the National Arts Council (NAC) of Singapore has previously denounced as "potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions", the government agency (despite its reluctance to spell out its direct affiliation to the ministry of culture on its own website) and self-declared champion of the arts in Singapore released a congratulatory statement whose mixture of embarrassment and halfhearted conciliation did not escape notice.

It appears that this would not be the end of the matter, and it was wrong to expect a kiss and make-up between award-winning artist and the nation's arts administrators.

So we decided to interview Sonny Liew ourselves.