As the dust from Halimah’s election (or selection as some would claim) as Singapore’s 8th President starts to settle, political commentators are wondering how could the G have miscalculated public sentiments and got the matter so wrong. Using online sentiments as the gauge, it would appear that the PAP government would pay a heavy price at the next General Election.
But let us take a step back for a moment and look at things from a macro perspective. If you study the PAP government and their social policies, their decision to hold a reserved election despite the obvious political price is not unusual for them. The PAP has always prided themselves as a government that does what it believes is right for Singapore and Singaporeans. They have never, and will never, side-step policies just to win the popular vote.
Over the past 50 years, the PAP has implemented numerous policies that no logical democratic government would do. Policies that met with overwhelming opposition when introduced, but which has over time have proven essential to Singapore’s survival, security and success. Some examples being National Service, CPF scheme, stop at two, Chinese as a second language, educational streaming, and the list goes on.
Two contentious social policies which many have forgotten are the Ethnic Integration Policy and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act. The former was implemented in March 1989 and ensures the racial integration and harmony in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates. The latter, which came into force in March 1992, empowers the G place a restraining order against a religious leader who uses his/her authority to incite feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different religious groups. With the passage of time, both these policies have been proven essential and necessary for Singapore and Singaporeans.
As the G has not failed us yet, I believe we should not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Like Xiaxue said, as a PAP supporter she may disagree with the policy of the reserved election. But having one difference in opinion does not negate all the good that the party has done.
Perhaps, just perhaps, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his current batch of cabinet ministers have the same foresight as our cabinet ministers of the past and, with time, the introduction of the reserved elected presidency will prove itself.
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