Couched in pseudo legalese, the Law Minister claimed, "Now, the elected president controls a second key to our reserves so that a government cannot take something that belongs to the reserves and just spend it unwisely - this for our future generation, our children and grandchildren; they (referring to the opposition) want to dismantle that." Well, his PAP government has already granted free access to GLCs to dip their greedy hands into the cookie jar, without explicitly explaining to the people the rationale for doing so. The lock has already been tampered with.
If that's not enough, Shanmugam reminds us that the elected president also controls the insidious instrument of the Internal Security Act. That alone is plenty reason to do away with the elected presidency. Dominic Puthucheary, and his dead brother James Puthucheary, would surely agree. So would Chia Thye Poh and Dr Poh Soo Kai. Asked whether he would shake the hand of Lee Kuan Yew if they met, Dr Poh's answer was no. It would be hypocritical if he answered yes.
Personally, it was very painful to see another victim, Teo Soh Lung, on the electoral podium. Each line of her face, set on a tiny frame, is a reminder of how much of her youth was cruelly robbed by a paranoid who actually claims he detained innocents without trial for an honourable cause. Innocents who he would laugh off as "do-gooders" to an Archbishop. In case you thought special consideration was given to her as a member of the weaker sex, here's how she described the horrors of being detained "at the pleasure of the president":
"During interrogation, I was verbally abused, slapped, made to stand for hours on end in the cold room with spotlights shining into my eyes and sit on a 3 legged chair, – i.e. one leg was shorter than the other 3 so that a prisoner cannot sit and sleep and thus deprived of sleep for days! Imprisonment was not too bad. For some months I was locked up in a small cell with slits for air and the rest of my stay was in a big spartan cell, which ISD called a “Shangrila Suite”. I was in solitary confinement throughout my stay."
The one redeeming feature, the Presidential Pardon, has already been amply demonstrated as another false promise of hope for those facing the gallows.
So is the elected presidency a fundamental pillar of government? Not in its present form it isn't. It's more of a crutch for those with a perverse sense of justice and in desperate need of some third party to expose the flaws of their legalistic reasoning.
|The fundamental pillar of government pressing the flesh|