Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Malay Presidential Candidates: Timely to appoint a Malay President who is in touch with the ground

Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong announced that next year’s presidential election will be reserved for candidates from the Malay community. The credentials of two possible Malay candidates to stand for this election are pretty impressive as described in The Straits Times published on Monday, 14th November 2016.

Initially, I was of the view that it does not matter what race the president belongs to, so long as the executive was eminently qualified.  However, now that PM Lee has taken pains to provide a comprehensive explanation in Parliament, I believe it is fair that a Malay President is selected as it has been 46 years since we have had one.

Given that the President has to ensure that our national reserves are protected and money managed wisely, it is a must that he/she has sound financial knowledge.  Added to that a President who has good family values and practices high moral standards will gain the respect of all our citizens. 

To me, a plus will be if the appointed Head of State is a People’s President – one who is able to relate to all sectors of the population is in touch with the ground and has the welfare of all Singaporeans. 

My personal encounters with Mr. Abdullah Tarmugi and Madam Halimah Yacob gives me a sense of comfort and satisfaction to know that they are both in the running.

During his tenure as Minister for the then-Ministry of Community Development, Mr. Tarmugi was very open to suggestions and showed a deep sense of caring for the elderly sick and those who have disabilities. 

When I sent a proposal to Mr. Tarmugi to have a radio show for the elderly sick who are in hospital titled “Radio request programme for the aged and the sick” way back in March 1998, through his unflagging support, both SAFRA Radio and NTUC Radio Heart implemented the suggestion which had benefited the elderly sick.

Noting my wife’s absence at a community event, I still recall how Mr. Tarmugi inquired where my wife was and how she was coping when he presented me with a Model Caregiver Award in 2007.  At an NTUC INCOME function, the retired minister went from table to table to chat with the diners who attended a colorful gathering.  He will be a great President.

Madam Halimah has always championed workers’ rights in the Labour Movement as well as being a staunch advocate for the mentally ill and their caregivers. She will also make a good President.

A positive trait of both Madam Halimah and Mr. Tarmugi is that they have always remained humble despite holding high positions in public office

Raymond Anthony Fernando




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