PE: PM Lee on what Presidential Election is about
16 August 2011
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that getting a Certificate of Eligibility to contest the Presidential Election does not necessarily mean that candidates are all "equally qualified to be President".
Four hopefuls have been issued the Certificate of Eligibility. They are Dr Tony Tan, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Tan Kin Lian and Mr Tan Jee Say.
Mr Lee stressed that his government will work with the man chosen by voters, whoever he is.
The Prime Minister weighed in on the Presidential Election just a day before Nomination Day.
Meeting the local media at the Istana on Tuesday, Mr Lee said he felt the need to speak on the issue not because of what any of the presidential hopefuls has said, but because he felt Singaporeans need to know his views and to give them something to think about when they go to the polls.
Mr Lee reiterated the role and responsibility of the President under the Constitution.
The President has blocking powers in only five areas, such as over the country's reserves and key appointments.
In all other areas, the President must act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Mr Lee also took the opportunity to talk about how his government has worked with President S R Nathan.
He cited the example of how the government had drawn on the reserves during the 2008 global financial crisis.
The proposal was put to the President and the Committee of Presidential Advisers.
Mr Lee said: "They asked questions, they spent several days thinking the matter over, asked and finally, only after satisfying themselves that this was in Singapore's best interest and the situation was serious enough to need the draw (on the reserves), that they approved the draw.
"The result was we were able to stabilise the economy, to boost confidence and to recover strongly when the storm passed, but also importantly, we were able to demonstrate how the Presidential safeguards were meant to work and could work in a tight situation."
Mr Lee said it is important for both the government and President to have a mutual understanding and constructive relationship and this is how he hopes to work with the next President.
He added that given the troubled global economic landscape, it is important that Singaporeans choose a capable President who can make well-judged decisions in the country's best interests.
The President also plays an important ceremonial role.
Mr Lee reminded Singaporeans that the President is a unifying figure and he also represents Singapore on the international stage.
For example, Mr Lee said President Nathan's grasp of international relations helped greatly to enhance Singapore's friendly relations with many countries.
Asked if a candidate's association with the ruling People's Action Party could work against him, Mr Lee said "no".
"When he becomes President, then he is in a different role, he's no longer a PAP member and he no longer takes instructions from the party. He's his own man, as Mr Ong Teng Cheong showed when he became President, and I think that is the way it has to work," said Mr Lee.
"Singapore is a very small society, and if you say you want people to come from completely different corners of the world and never had had any connection with one another, and then that counts as being independent, I think that is not possible," added Mr Lee.
Of the four presidential hopefuls, three have links to the PAP. Dr Tony Tan had served as deputy prime minister and Dr Tan Cheng Bock was a former MP, while former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian was a former PAP member.
While Mr Lee did not want to be drawn into commenting what he thinks of the aspirants, he did repeat his endorsement of Dr Tony Tan.
"I think Dr Tony Tan is eminently qualified and a very good candidate. But I leave it to Singapore voters to make their judgement and I have every confidence they will make a good judgement," he said.
If there is a contest on Nomination Day, Singaporeans will go to the polls on August 27 in the country's first Presidential Election in 18 years.
Ah… no PM is adding his 2 cents worth on the President race on the eve on nomination day.
I was questioning his purpose ask he talk on old issue and again emphasis how idiotic PAP think Singaporean are assuming we can’t think for ourselves.
But his true intend for this press conference came at the end. His endorsement for Tony.
So in summary, Hsien Loong is tell you and me that although all 4 president hopeful got the COE but there is one that is more qualify and you know the President is very important one as he er… do….er….hmm… but he has blocking blocking powers in ONLY five area ,such as over the country's reserves and key appointments plus he can have informal talk to air his view privately to Hsien Loong but end of the day he can’t do nothing if the cabinet want something out of his wish.
Hsien Loong then go on about how the President represent Singaporean internationally and he prefer someone with this experience for President. Then he openly supports Tony.
Well Hsien Loong this is only your view.
One man one vote, we are all entitled to vote for someone who will not be a PAP yes man and demand a better Singapore’s society that is really Democratic, have real Justice, as well as Equality, and able to achieve Prosperity and Progress.