A Small Preamble:
The Elected Presidency is a hybrid – part ceremonial, part executive/custodial ( how can one be ‘custodial’ without executive powers, beats me!) – an institution that is said to be unique to Singapore.
The EP is expected to conduct himself in a dignified manner as befits his office as the country’s head of state when discharging either responsibility.
As such it is fertile ground for us to explore how Singapore can enrich and entrench this institution by establishing norms and creating traditions as we evolve as a society, nation and country.
This short note is written with this context in mind. All are welcome to comment and contribute their own ideas.
To do justice to the voters each candidate should hold at least 5 rallies – in the north, south, east, west and central. When you have only one rally each, many voters are bound to miss it for work reasons, for reasons of distance, timing and accessibility and other very valid reasons. In any case, if even only a quarter of the voters are interested to attend a rally, name me ONE venue anywhere in Singapore that can accommodate all of them at one go?
In fact, since we are electing a President who is going to be our head of state, the highest office in the land, is it not the govt’s responsibility and obligation to ensure that the voters are facilitated by organizing and managing the physical arrangements of such rallies?
Remember, this is NOT the hurly burly of partisan politicking like in the GE, but a rational, measured speechifying by an aspirant of promises and intentions of what he would do for the people and the country, as the Elected President, when he is elected.
Govt should pick up the bill for providing the aspirants with the platform and stage to properly hold forth on this. In this respect, an alternative suggestion is for govt to provide each candidate with three opportunities each at a centrally located venue -for example, the padang. In future, when the new national stadium is ready, these rallies can be held there with the candidates alternating to speak until all have done so three times.
On top of this, there should be televised debates with a moderator providing topics culled from feedback from voters on the issues of national relevance, importance and closest to the heart of voters for discussion and debate so that the voters can hear the aspirants explain and debate their ideas and opinions. That would be a wonderful opportunity for the voters to see and hear for themselves the sort of substance and ideas the aspirants wish to bring to the job if elected.
Can any reasonable person disagree with such a healthy, transparent and unifying approach?
For only when a nation gets together to discuss national issues that affect and concern all citizens sans partisan politics, can there be true consensus building, ownership, mutual understanding and transparency of purpose and intent.
All for one, and one for all! (Alexandre Dumas -The Three Musketeers)