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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Now What Do I Do About The Selected President of Singapore? - Some Personal Thoughts

I guess there needed to be something I am passionate about to write a blog.  I am passionate about my country, Singapore.  And in the same breath, when once I was proud of the Singapore leaders, I hang my head in terrible shame.  And it all has to do with the Reserved Election which was no election at all!

When I first heard about the Reserved Election, I thought hard and prayed about it as well.  And I was extremely upset that the leaders of Singapore will choose to force my choice.  On 15th November 2016, I wrote an email to the Prime Minister's Office registering clearly my concerns and non-support for the Reserved Election for various reasons.  See the major portion of my email addressed to the Prime Minister below:

I have been following the intention to have a reserved election for the next President.  While the argument that Singapore should have a minority race President is noble, it also makes one (me) feel that as a Singaporean, I am not able to rise above racial issues to choose my President.

 The Singapore leaders need to trust Singaporeans to choose the right President for themselves regardless of race, language or religion (according to our pledge).  If Singapore schools and families guided by the government has done a great job in helping us to accept each other regardless of race, language or religion, then the government leaders need to trust us to choose our own President.

If a Malay candidate comes up and is able to shine, why not - I would vote for that person.  By having a reserved election, the government is effectively tying our hands.  What if both the Malay candidates are not as good as say, another Indian or Eurasian or Chinese candidate who would have made a better President?  Singaporeans would have been short-changed.  We would lose trust in the PAP, its intentions and your goodself, sir.

Sir, behind all these - I believe that there might be a strategic purpose of having a Malay President especially in current times where we are seeing the rise of ISIS and Islamic fervor.  But I doubt this is going to work as Singapore Malays are generally moderate.  The second reason, and which is the 'talk of the town' on Facebook, is that this reserved election was tabled so that a certain very qualified potential candidate would not re-contend for this post. 

Either reasons above do not matter to me.  What matters to me is that I am respected by Singapore leaders.  This respect is tied into the fact that you are willing to trust me to vote for the right presidential candidate regardless of race, language or religion.

I would like to register officially that as a citizen of Singapore, I am against the Reserved Election as it forces me to observe and choose from one minority group and imposes a restrictive decision.  This reserved election also restricts other potential candidates from campaigning fairly and winning accordingly.


Naturally, I was unaware at that time that Halimah Yacob (the potential president) was actually a Singaporean Indian!  Obviously, I received a reply from a certain Ms. Char who acknowledged receipt.  You know, the Prime Minister is probably too busy to read my email.

And now this  - we have a farce of a reserved election that brought up the race issue.  A farce because this Indian woman, a former Speaker of the House, was not elected by the people of Singapore!  While others may have been enthusiastic about the reserved election, I was definitely not for it!  And I was absolutely livid to discover the following which caused me to distrust this entire process and the leadership that I voted for (and before those opposing the ruling party say, "I told you so", please read my last sentence carefully):

1.  Halimah is an Indian-Muslim but states that she is a Malay.  Just because one adopts the Malay culture does not make one a Malay.  When one is not able to accept and admit the truth of one's ethnicity, it sure raises a red flag.  And as a leader of a nation, the expectation that a president will acknowledge his or her own original race (or birthplace) is real.  The reserved presidential election was apparently designed for the minority Malay community in Singapore.  As a Singaporean Indian woman myself, I am totally ashamed that another Singaporean Indian woman was not magnanimous enough to step aside.  

2.  MUIS and the Malay community may have nobly accepted this Singaporean Indian as Malay but that does not change the fact that she is INDIAN.  It's like stating that the Chinese community has accepted my dad (who is half Chinese and half Indian) as Chinese when really, his identity card states clearly that he is an INDIAN.  Frankly, if Malay is defined by ethnicity of an Austronesian people, then there is no denying that the current president of Singapore is an INDIAN and the reserved election for the Malay minority did not happen.  If Malay is defined by the religion Islam, then it throws the entire meaning of the reserved election into disarray.

 3.  Halimah Yacob, a politician, should have voiced her strong objections to the reserved presidential election if she truly cared about the Malay community that had accepted her.  She could have used her leadership skills and influence to remind the ruling party that a reserved presidential election is an acknowledgment by the ruling party that Singaporeans are incapable of using their God-given powers of assessment and analysis to choose the right President.  She could have risen FOR the people of Singapore to display her concern.  One has to wonder more about why she did not object to the reserved election.  Is it naive to think that she did not have the choice? - a question that will haunt me personally.


Halimah Yacob, the first female Speaker of the House has accomplished many things in her life, may be a good, sincere, authentic person and contributed much to her constituency and her faith but so have other Singaporeans.  It is unfortunate that she did not stand against other highly qualified Singaporean men or women from different ethnicities.  If she had won the people's vote fairly and squarely by working hard to show why she should be elected despite the fact that she is not a Malay, even I might have voted for her.  But alas, we will never know as we never had the privilege of voting for the best presidential candidate "regardless of race, language or religion".

Some Singaporeans might say, "Do not blame Halimah Yacob for what happened" but I have a serious response:  This is not a blame.  These are choice decisions that a person of high political standing has made and it is unfortunate that these decisions have caused pain among Singaporeans.

Finally, how would I respond from a Christian perspective?  I, too, now have to make choice decisions: I am called to pray for my leaders so that "we may have peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:2).  But before I can even pray, I need to forgive the ruling party and Halimah Yacob for hurting me by not respecting my ability to choose the right President for my country.  I feel betrayed.

But I cannot hold onto to the past.  I need to move forward and let myself be healed in the process.  And the best thing one can do for someone who has hurt you would be to forgive and bless them.  This is my choice decision.

 I bless them with God's wisdom as they need this very much.  I will thank God that Halimah Yacob is at least a citizen of Singapore.  I will also bless Singaporean Halimah Yacob to receive the TRUTH that sets all people free in the Lord Jesus Name.  I will bless this selected president to succeed.  And as a fellow Singaporean woman, I will hope that she will make our nation proud.

Singaporeans, let us be proud of our races and mean what we say when we recite the Singapore Pledge.

And as for the ruling party, I will wait till the next election to exercise my right to voice with a vote.  Maybe, I will still stick with you and maybe I won't.  Time will tell as we pursue to build a democratic society.

May God bless Singapore,
Rachel