Support Our President!

by Patrick Liew on November 16, 2019

Let’s Support Our President!

Mdm Halimah Yacob was sworn in as the 8th President on Thursday, 13 September 2017.

However her rise to the Presidency position has raised many concerns.

1. First, there are people who doesn’t like the Elected Presidency System.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 that a Constitutional Commission will be appointed to review selected aspects of the 25-year-old Elected Presidency system.

Did they give their feedback to the Government?

2. On Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appointed a nine-member Constitutional Commission chaired by the Chief Justice and eight other credible, prominent, and well-regarded leaders to study changes to the Elected Presidency system, including reviewing the qualifying criteria of candidates.

Did they give their feedback to the Government?

3. The Constitutional Commission made a call for written submissions.

The following are the members of the Constitutional Commission ; Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Supreme Court judge Tay Yong Kwang; Public Service Commission chairman Eddie Teo; former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi, who is a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights; and former ambassador to the United States, Professor Chan Heng Chee, who is chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The private sector was represented by Ho Bee Land chairman and CEO Chua Thian Poh; Far East Organization CEO Philip Ng; DBS Bank chairman Peter Seah; and Venture Corporation chairman and CEO Wong Ngit Liong.

Did they give their feedback to the Commission?

4. The Commission held four public hearings in April and May 2016, and deliberated over the recommendations before submitting them to the Government.

Did they give their feedback to the Government?

5. The Commission’s report and the Government’s White Paper in reply was released in September 2016.

Did they give their feedback to the Government and the Commission?

6. The issues raised about the Elected Presidency was debated in Parliament from 7 to 9 November 2016.

Did they give their feedback to the Commission?

7. Another concern is whether Ms Halimah Yacob is a Malay.
Ms Halimah Yacob’s father is Indian-Muslim while her mother is Malay.

Her father was a watchman who died due to a heart attack when she was eight years old, leaving her and four siblings to be brought up by her mother.

So is she really Malay?

Let me offer some background information and then refer you to the Constitution of Singapore which should be supported by ALL Singaporeans to prove that Halimah Yacob is Malay.

8. According to ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute fellow Norshahril Saat, “If you follow ancestry strictly, then no candidate would qualify as a Malay.

Inter-ethnic marriages have made this perspective irrelevant, and it is difficult to find a pure Malay.”

9. Let us now look across the causeway for some possible answers.

Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is also mixed blood.

He is not totally pure Malay.
Mahathir’s father, Mohamad bin Iskandar Kutty was from Penang and he is a Malay with Indian ancestors from the South Indian state of Kerala.

Since Mahathir’s mother is a Malay, that means that Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is really ¼ Indian and ¾ Malay.

However this did not prevent him from becoming the leader of UMNO and ultimately Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister in a Malay-dominated country.

10. Dr. Mahathir’s successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is also not totally pure Malay.

His maternal grandfather Han Su-chiang is a Utsul Muslim Chinese from Hainan island.

So that means that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is ¼ Chinese and ¾ Malay.

In spite of this background, he was elected as the leader of UMNO and subsequently, he became the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

11. Under the Constitution of Singapore, a person is a member of the community if he considers himself part of, and if he is accepted as such by the community with a Community Committee making this call.

All presidential candidates, including Halimah Yacob have to submit a certificate by the community to certify that they are Malays.

In accordance with the Constitution of Singapore, Halimah Yacob is a Malay.

According to the Singapore Constitution, Halimah Yacob is the President of the Republic of Singapore.

12. Another concern is that there was nobody else that stood up or was qualified to contest for the presidency position.

Everybody can criticize the Elected Presidency system and the way it was implemented.

However, please don’t blame President Halimah Yacob for the issues, including the fact that there was a no-contest for the presidential election, and disqualification of two presidential candidates.

13. To be fair, the Presidential Elections Committee should also not be blamed for adhering to criteria for issuing the certificate of eligibility.

Why should the Committee lower the standards?

14. President Halimah Yacob did not contravene the Constitution.

She should therefore be rightfully sworn in as the President of Singapore, our President.

15. I’m sure President Halimah Yacob is aware of the challenges during her presidential election campaign.

16. She is also aware that she’ll be under a spotlight throughout her term of office and perhaps, until her last day.

Many eyes are watching over her.

Some will wish her well while others will be on the lookout to find faults with her.

18. How then should you respond?

Personally, I choose to pray for her.

Support her and and hope for the best for her.

19. Truth be told, many of the good things that she will do, especially with the government will be behind closed doors.

Many achievements may never be known to the public.

Still, I believe she will protect the best interests of Singapore and do her job to the best of her abilities.

20. I’m confident that President Halimah Yacob will rise up to face the tidal wave in front of her.

Just as she has started to break away from traditions, she will not be easily swayed by other leaders and even popular opinions.

As our President, she will conduct vigorous research, and seek wise counsel from the Council of Presidential Advisors.

In her heart of hearts, she will look after the best interests of Singapore and Singaporeans as she contributes to crafting directions and decisions for our brightest future.

21. Should you fight her or ignore her?

Do we want Singapore to end up like many countries where people fight negatively over their political beliefs?

Argue indiscriminately about political power and positions?

And polarize and divide their people?

22. To be fair to President Halimah Yacob, even many of the politicians in the opposition camps have recognized that she is a leader with a good heart.

She has addressed many key issues in Parliament and in the public, and she has fought for the disadvantaged in our midst.

23. To my fellow Singaporeans, including those who have completed National Service.

Every soldier has taken the SAF Pledge.

Here’s what we pledged to do:

“We, members of the Singapore Armed Forces, do solemnly and sincerely pledge that we will always bear true faith and allegiance to the President and the Republic of Singapore.

“We will always support and defend the Constitution.

“We will preserve and protect the honour and independence of our country with our lives.”

Please allow me to reiterate – All Singaporean NSF will have to “always bear true faith and allegiance to the President and the Republic of Singapore” and “support and defend the Constitution”.

24. Please give her space, time and other necessary resources to perform her roles and responsibilities.

As a human, you too would want others to give you adequate bandwidth and latitude to do your job, right?

You don’t want others to keep criticizing you and throwing stones at you every step of the way, do you?

25. After the dusts have settled, history may remember her as a truly people-oriented President who not only understood the people but also a leader who could feel their heartbeats too.

26. If we put aside our unhappiness and concerns, we can find many virtues and values in having Mdm Halimah Yacob as our President.

Think about it.

Our shining red dot is led by the first woman to become the President of Singapore.

She is also the first Malay to become the President after 47 years.

What’s more, she overcame many odds to become the President.

27. President Halimah Yacob can be a living model and a inspiration to all Singaporeans.

Wherever they come from and however challenging life has been to them, they can chase after the rainbow.

They can serve their highest calling in and through our country.

28. I’m confident that in the years to come, people will respect her for working wisely and working hard to help Singapore and Singaporeans achieve success in the exciting new world.

As it is, President Yacob has been working very hard and wisely after assuming the highest office in the country.

29. My prayer is that she’ll become a beacon for religious and racial harmony, multiculturalism, multiracialism, and gender parity.

She’ll be a leader that will lead and inspire our people to transform Singapore into an exceptionally great country in the future.Go4It!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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