Monday, 8 August 2011

Presidential Election Watch Part V - Value of Fairness

As Law Minister Shanmugan created a "mini-storm" with his remarks at the IPS Seminar that "The President can speak on issues only as authorised by the Cabinet; and he must follow the advice of the Cabinet in the discharge of his duties.", DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam seemed to agree with at least one of Tan Kin Lian's tenet of 5 values - FAIRNESS.

The DPM was speaking speaking at a grassroots National Day dinner at Bukit Batok, as reported by Yahoo at this link, "Next 3-4 years will be tough: DPM Tharman".

He highlighted four broad strategies which could help Singaporeans stay afloat during this troubled environment and look forward with optimism.

These include the need for Singaporeans to keep the spirit of consensus and avoid divisiveness.

He noted that the country needs to avoid the problems seen "vividly" in the US and Europe, where although they have mature democracies, they also possess "dysfunctional politics".

"The debate in the US over the debt ceiling was a symptom of that -- a divided Congress unable to agree and willing to take a risk with the American economy and people."

This, he said, is the reason why it will be of extreme importance to sustain "a tone of openness, respect and understanding" in discussions in the mainstream media and online.

The second key point which he pointed out is that Singaporeans should continue to deal with the crisis with a spirit of fairness.

"We come together and take care of the interests of low- and middle-income Singaporeans, and of businesses and we prepare for recovery," he added.

"When we recover, we share prosperity, again with a sense of fairness. Those who have sacrificed more should get more, especially those with lower incomes."

I am sure Singaporeans will give due weight to such advice by the DPM but maybe not what the Law Minister had said during the IPS Seminar ....."Whether the President actually wields influence - depends on who the President is. If he is someone who commands little or no respect, then influence will be limited."

In all fairness, let's substitute the word "President" with "Minister" in the above sentence he made at the IPS seminar.

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