Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’s Prime Minister’

Only one Singaporean is fit to be president — So who decides in a democracy? — Or who cares if it is a democracy?

September 14, 2017

Or so the government concludes

IT IS very important, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, explained last year, that all Singaporeans feel they have a genuine chance of becoming president. To that end, his government tinkered with the eligibility criteria for candidates. Yet Singaporeans primed for a festival of inclusiveness at this year’s election must be confused. On September 11th a committee of senior officials declared that only one candidate was eligible to stand, and that the woman in question, Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament, was thus deemed to have been elected unopposed. She will be sworn in on September 14th.

Singapore’s democracy can sometimes seem a little regimented: the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been in power since before independence in 1965. So when the government decided to amend the constitution in 1991 to allow direct elections for president, ostensibly to deepen popular engagement with politics, observers were suspicious—and rightly so. The criteria for eligibility were set so narrowly that only two of the subsequent five elections have involved more than one candidate. Even so, at the previous election, in 2011, the PAP’s preferred candidate came within a whisker of losing.

The government says this close shave had no influence on its decision to narrow the eligibility criteria yet more before this year’s election. The intention, Mr Lee explained, was to make sure that none of Singapore’s three main ethnic groups—Chinese, Malays and Indians—was excluded from the job for too long. In November the government duly changed the constitution to reserve presidential elections for members of a particular ethnic group if no one from that group has held the job for the previous five terms. On this basis, the presidential election this year was limited to Malays, who make up 13% of the population but have not held the office of president since 1970. Coincidentally, the new rules prevented the candidate who fell just 7,383 votes short last time, Tan Cheng Bock, from running again, as he is one of the 74% of Singaporeans who are Chinese (9% of the population is Indian).

Cynics point out that the government’s concern with diversity goes only so far. All holders of the much more powerful post of prime minister have been Chinese—two out of three of them from the Lee family. Singapore normally prides itself on being a meritocracy, in contrast to neighbouring Malaysia, where Malays and other indigenous groups are accorded special privileges. And while candidates for president this year had to be Malay, not just any Malay could apply. They also needed either to have served in an extremely senior government job or to have run a profitable company with S$500m ($371m) in shareholder equity. The figure used to be S$100m but a decision to raise the bar was announced last year. Undaunted, two other Malays beside Ms Halimah applied to run, but were judged not to have met the criteria.

Popular and competent, Ms Halimah seemed very likely to win even with some competition. Disqualifying her challengers robs her of the modicum of legitimacy the election could have given her. Voters excited to mark ballots for Singapore’s first female president are particularly disappointed. Then again, Singapore’s repeated tightening of the rules suggests a lack of faith that voters, given a wider choice, would make the right decision.

https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21728865-or-so-government-concludes-only-one-singaporean-fit-be-president

Advertisements

President Obama Demonstrates His Lack of Faith in the American Democratic System and The American Voters: Says Trump is “Unfit”

August 2, 2016

.

President Obama during a News Conference with Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong looking on, August 2, 2016. Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama on Tuesday slammed Republican White House nominee Donald Trump, saying he was “woefully unprepared” and “unfit” to serve as president.

“I think the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president,” he said at a White House news conference. “I said so last week. He keeps proving it.”

**************************

By ARLETTE SAENZ
ABC News

Aug 2, 2016, 11:35 AM ET

President Obama said today Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is “unfit to serve as president.”

In a press conference with Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, Obama added that Trump has shown he is “woefully unprepared to do this job” after his comments on military families as well as his handle on foreign affairs.

“The notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country, the fact that he doesn’t appear to have basic knowledge around critical issues in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, means that he is woefully unprepared to do this job,” the president said at the White House.

Obama remarked that Republican denunciations of Trump “ring hollow” as leaders in the GOP continue to endorse Trump.

“There has to come a point at which you say enough,” he said.

“The question that I think that they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him? What does this say about your party that this is your standard bearer?” Obama said. “This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily and weekly where they are distancing themselves from statements he’s making.”

*********************************

President Obama keeps talking about his administration with warm and loving nostalgia — even though it isn’t over until it’s over. We should all pay close attention and allow the world and the election to play itself out.

The Democratic party machine and all the national “mainstream media” is probably too much for any Republican to overcome this year. But let’s just see. Both candidates have “high negatives.” in fact, its probably safe to say America has never seen two more “untrustworthy” candidates for President of the United States.

********************************

Last week at the Democratic National Convention, President Obama said, “Don’t boo. Vote.”

Well, today, he told everyone HOW TO VOTE!

*

At Peace and Freedom — we cannot endorse either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. But we respect the fact that both are running for president because millions of people chose to vote for them in primary elections.We should all respect out democratic system and allow the election  to be decided by the voters in November….

Asean Worries About China’s Aggression: “Might Makes Right, The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”

June 25, 2015

.

By 

ASEAN’s leaders are worried about what history tells them about the future of Southeast Asia. The fears about the lessons of history are a discordant note as ASEAN steps up to a great moment in its history—the creation of an economic, political-security and social Community in December 2015.

Perhaps this moment of historic creation is partly driven by dark understandings of history. As ASEAN embraces a date with regional destiny, its leaders are invoking some tough history as reference points,The National Interest reports.

The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, stirs headlines by comparing China with Hitler’s Germany. In this metaphor, the Philippines has the role of Czechoslovakia. Aquino ran this line last year to The New York Times and during his recent visit to Japan.

The point about Aquino’s history is not just the Germany–China analogy, but the casting of the US in the Britain/France role—the great powers that stood mute while the small state (the Philippines as Czechoslovakia) got monstered.

Another history that keeps popping up is Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian war 2,500 years ago, the conflict between Athens and Sparta. The Thucydides trap that ASEAN sees is different to the Thucydides trap that worries China and the US. Different aspects of history for different folks.

Professor Graham Allison’s version of the trap is the danger posed when a rising power confronts a ruling power.

For Allison, the crucial news is this line: ‘It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.’ Applied today, this becomes China’s rise, US fear and inevitable conflict:

“Never has a nation [China] moved so far, so fast, up the international rankings on all dimensions of power. In a generation, a state whose gross domestic product was smaller than Spain’s has become the second-largest economy in the world. If we were betting on the basis of history, the answer to the question about Thucydides’s trap appears obvious. In 11 of 15 cases since 1500 where a rising power emerged to challenge a ruling power, war occurred.”

The trap has captured the attention of China’s leader, Xi Jinping. He told the Berggruen Institute:

“The argument that strong countries are bound to seek hegemony does not apply to China. This is not in the DNA of this country given our long historical and cultural background. Also China fully understands that we need a peaceful and stable internal and external environment to develop ourselves. We all to need to work together to avoid the Thucydides trap—destructive tensions between an emerging power and established powers, or between established powers themselves.”

When ASEAN leaders go to Thucydides, however, they are interested in a different trap – what big powers can do to the small.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, had his Thucydides moment at the Asia Pacific Roundtable last year, with this bit of dark history:

“Imagine a world where institutions, rules and norms are ignored, forgotten or cast aside; in which countries with large economies and strong armies dominate, forcing the rest to accept the outcome. This would be a world where, in the words of the Greek historian Thucydides, ‘The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must’.”

Going Peloponnesian a few weeks ago, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, worried about the same history:

“It should not be a world where might is right, where the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. It should be a world where legitimacy and constructive engagement are the international norm, and every country, big and small, can compete peacefully for the chance to prosper.”

The strong doing as they will and the weak suffering as they must is what Athens told the small state of Melos in the Melian dialogue, demanding surrender and payment of tribute. Melos refused to yield, claiming the right to remain neutral (or lean towards Sparta) on grounds of justice and honor. After a siege, Athens infamously carried out its threat to kill every Melian male of arms-bearing age and sold the women and children into slavery.

Such history speaks to core aims of ASEAN neutrality and centrality. Neutrality for individual ASEAN states has a distinct Melian flavor—the right to stand aloof or to lean between China and the US, depending on the issue. The ASEAN fear is of not being central to decisions and being forced to pick sides under duress.

The ASEAN version of the Thucydides trap is another version of the conundrum expressed by Wang Gungwu: ASEAN’s problem is to form a realistic assessment of China’s intentions and America’s resolve.
Musing on the prospect of tough choices is such a habit it qualifies as part of the ASEAN way. Coral Bell’s line was that NATO is ever in crisis; in the same manner, ASEAN is ever tormented by existential angst. The history lessons feed the angst.

http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/asias-history-challenge/

Related:

China would like to grow without having to worry about conflict

May 30, 2015

.

China wants to deal with its domestic issues and reforms without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world, PM Lee Hsien Loong said. — ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
.

CHINA wants to deal with its domestic issues and reforms without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the Shangri-La Dialogue last night.

He made this point in reply to a question from South Korean academic Chung Min Lee, who asked Mr Lee how he foresaw China’s rise militarily and how he proposed managing it.

Mr Lee said, in his view, China is not out to seek conflict and that it is focused on development. But its development “is not as effortless as it appears to outsiders”. “What we see as inevitable, they see as requiring tremendous effort,” he added.

The Chinese leadership is now in the midst of ambitious and thorough economic and social reforms, as well as a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, he said. “China has many internal issues which it is preoccupied with. It knows it has to work on these in order to continue to prosper, and it would like to do this without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world.”

Mr Lee said all Asean countries want a good relationship with China, notwithstanding disputes in the South China Sea. “That’s a big plus factor which makes this problem tractable, and I think that will continue,” he said.

He was asked by a Chinese colonel about founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s view that the United States had to choose whether to engage or isolate China. He replied that every administration since that of Richard Nixon had chosen engagement.

As a small country friendly with both powers, Singapore’s “role as a bridge is a very modest one”. It wants only to help the US and China be better friends with each other, he said.

rchang@sph.com.sg

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/china-would-grow-without-having-worry-about-conflict-pm-

PM Lee, on how Singapore has managed to achieve much in the last 50 years and what’s next

We have benefited from a benign region from the American presence in Asia, from our own efforts, and the friendship of our neighbours…

Japan led the flying geese and we were one of the little goslings following behind. We are now not the gosling anymore. Neither are we a giant bird. We are a small bird, having to find our own way forward…

We are small, so we can do things a little bit faster. We have invested in our people. We are secure in our defences today.

We are in a strong position. The game has just begun. All I can say as the current coach is I have got a good team and from the team, we will produce future coaches and we will get there beyond the finish line in 50 years’ time.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/china-would-grow-without-having-worry-about-conflict-pm-#sthash.0Tpzsyvf.dpuf