I agree with the Law Minister Shanmugan on the duties of the President and how they are to be carried out, in so far as they are stated specifically and clearly in the Constitution.
I do not agree with his view that the President cannot speak about anything else without the approval of the Government.
I find the Law Minister’s interpretation to be too narrow. It seemed to give the President less freedom of speech than an ordinary citizen of Singapore.
I wish to assure the Law Minister and the Government that, if I were elected as President, I would carry out the duties within the constitution and to bring issues of the people to the Government in a constructive and cooperative manner, and will help to find the solutions that are best for the people and for the Government as well. I believe that in most cases, there are many areas of common interest between the Government and the people.
I also pledge to the people that I will bring up issues that are legitimate and affect large numbers of people. I will be “the voice of the people” in conveying these issues to the Government.
I urge the Government to adopt a more open approach towards the issues of the people. There is no need to politicize these issues. If they are legitimate issues, let us adopt an open and constructive approach to solve them. Many of these issues are best solved when they are discussed openly in a forum and bring the views of the impartial experts and also the views of the people who are affected by them.
An open approach is more likely to bring better solutions. It allows the people to be engaged and understand the issue better. It removes suspicion and builds trust. This will be for the better of the future of Singapore.
I have looked at the constitution earlier about whether the President can be the voice of the people to bring issues to the Government. I do not find any requirement that the President should be “dumb”. I have also received advice from a lawyer who looked at the constitution and he confirmed my understanding.
I shall ask the lawyer to go through the constitution one more time to see if there are clauses that have been overlooked by me, and that support the interpretation of the Law Minister that the President cannot speak on any issue that differs from the actions taken by the Government.
If the reading of the constitution is not as narrow as stated by the Law Minister, I will proceed to contest the election (provided that I get the certificate of eligibility) and let the people decide if they wish to elect me on my platform to be the voice of the people and to work with the Government in a constructive and cooperative manner.
I believe that the Government will also find it wise to cooperate and respect the office of the elected President, in the interest of the people of Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian