Sunday, July 24, 2011

Too Much Too Little Too Late

I am dedicating this song to President Sellapan Ramanathan in honour of his new-found determination.

Suddenly, he has woken up from his two terms of slumber. He has been in the news almost daily to show that he intends to leave the office that pays him millions annually on a high note.

In doing so, he has shown an unprecedented resolve to ensure that he does not go down in Singapore’s history books as this country's most uninspiring and notoriously silent elected President, when compared to the legacies left by the late Presidents Wee Kim Wee and Ong Teng Cheong.

Yesterday, taking a page from at least one presidential contender Tan Cheng Bock, he was seen on television attending the World Cup qualifying match between Singapore and Malaysia.

To show that he is in the know about his position as defender of minority rights in this constitutional democracy, he has attended separate events for such communities in Singapore; one day he was launching a book on the origins of Indians and another day he was promoting the very unhealthy but tasty dish called ‘briyani’ at a mosque.

If that wasn’t enough, he followed another example from presidential contenders Tan Kin Lian and Dr Tony Tan, to comment on matters that are in the realm of the Executive.

Addressing the Malay-Muslim community leadership, he expressed concern about divorces rates within the community. He has remarked, “The other day I went to see the foster mothers. The large number of Malay foster mothers looking after children. These are not orphans who have lost their parents. We should bring it down through education and counselling."

I have always respected the office of President. But last year, I found myself unable to respect the leadership of the current President. At the National Day Parade, the President, instead of walking shoulder to shoulder with the many men and women who dedicate their lives to our armed services, chose to depart from tradition and inspect the guard-of-honour from a motor vehicle. This was billed as the "first presidential drive past inspection on the Padang (using the SAF ceremonial Land Rover)". To me, however, it reflected a presidency disconnected or out of touch with the people of Singapore.

Compare this to a Singapore of yesteryear: the President of this country led the parade in his full suit, while the rain pelted the sacred grounds of Padang. The President stood there with his unbendable resolve to set an example for the many men and women at that parade. In that process, he inspired a whole generation of youths, one of whom would go on one day to be the Prime Minister of Singapore.

Some of my friends tell me I am being unduly harsh to the President as, taking into account his ripe age, he has achieved much. They say he was a very elderly man by the time he put himself for presidential elections, when he really could have chosen to stay away from the limelight and spend time with his many children. With the benefit of hindsight, he perhaps should have.

As a Singaporean, it only leaves me to wish him a retirement that is as remarkably silent as his presidency.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?
Feel free to react below or leave a comment.


Veronica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veronica said...

I think that you have been too kind and even respectful when taking into consideration the millions he pocketed and the nothing he did during his terms of presidency.

Anonymous said...

Other possible song tributes could include;

1. Final Countdown

2. Mony, Mony

3. Run Runaway

Anonymous said...

Think you do this president a grave disservice. He has been very active, but without fanfare and overt publicity.

I have heard it said, in all seriousness, that his appointments in a day rival Ong Teng Cheong's appointments in a week. He is very generous with his time and all sorts of groups of persons seek him out for chitchats, events.

And by the way, this is the gentleman that offered himself as a hostage to secure the release of hostages during a ship hostage situation in the seventies.

TipTop said...

@the above poster. I hope you are really joking.

If his serious appointments are charity events or other events that involve him being there just to show face and shake some hands, then All PR managers must be REALLY REALLY important. I want a president not a nice-looking mascot. Well if he wants to be a mascot then be paid as a mascot AT THE VERY LEAST.

To compare him with the late Ong Teng Cheong is a great disservice to President Ong.
At least he bothered to try to address the issue of our national reserves something that is STILL unresolved. What did Nathan do other then be a mascot?

His past action however heroic does not excuse him from his actions or lack thereof during his Presidency.
Good riddance i say.

Anonymous said...

Joke. Forthcoming Singapore book title.

"Defining Moments of My Singapore Presidency" by SR Nathan

Publisher says book has potential to qualify in the "thinnest book category" in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Cynical Investor said...

Could it be that our MSM are publicising what he is doing nowadays, more than they did in the past?

Koh said...

There is a musing entitled "A Gauge of Singaporeans'Political Maturity & Sophistication" in my humble blog which your readers may want to take a look and give their comments. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nathan will always be fondly remembered as the president that wrote the book 'why am I here?'.
Clueless, silent, non-existent, useless. good riddance and a waste of tax payers money.

Anonymous said...

anon 6.42
We do not pay $3-4m for a President to indulge in small talks and chit chats.
In his 12 years in office, has he ever,ever raise any issue with the Govt pertaining to the reserves or talk about the struggles of common citizens? Has he ever granted clemency to any single death row imate while every one of his predecessors did?
Good riddance finally!

Koh said...

To be fair to him, he approved the use of $4 billion in the 2008 Financial Crisis which later the Govt. repaid. He also lobbied and championed a lot of charitable causes. Remember ours is a Parliamentary Democracy and his duties and powers are laid down very clearly in the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

presidential powers are restricted in the constitution. im not too sure if a president can go "rogue" while remaining within the guidelines. if your problem is with the constitution, change that. dont beat up on the person in the role who does his best within those guidelines. it IS a big deal when the president goes to charity events, it IS a big deal when he sits and chats with people. the more you undermine the inherent value of the president, the less power we have to change the scope of the constitution.

my point simply is, dont write off the man. he's a good person, and he has done a lot within the boundaries of the constitutional provisions. he may not beat drums about it. i believe the man deserves some respect.