Govt’s response to Dr Tan Cheng Bock is – do not require a response?


I refer to the article “Tan Cheng Bock calls for Presidential Election to be open election” (Channel NewsAsia, Mar 31).

It states that “Speaking on behalf of the Government, a spokesman from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said Dr Tan “has not raised any new points that require response”.

The MCI spokesman added for more than a year, the matter has been considered and debated extensively, including the forming of a Consitutional Commission chaired by the Chief Justice which undertook extensive consultations and public hearings on the Elected Presidency.

“Dr Tan did not participate in those hearings or give his views to the Commission. The Government gave its response to the Commission’s report in a White Paper, and Parliament debated the matter over three days, before passing amendments to the Constitution,” said the spokesman.”

I think most Singaporeans who read the above may be even more confused like I was when I read it.

What does the Government expect Singaporeans to do? – Individually try to research what actually transpired in the “extensive consultations and public hearings on the Elected Presidency”, find and read the Government’s “response to the Commission’s report in a White Paper”, and search Hansard to read what transpired when “Parliament debated the matter over three days”?

Why can’t the Government just respond to Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s questions and remarks – so that Singaporeans can understand and accept this arguably, contentious matter better?

As an analogy – if you go to school and ask your teacher a simple question and the response is “you are not raising any new points that require a response” – what do you think the whole class of students may think or feel?

Specifically, if I may cite just one example – I would like to ask whether Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s question – “to explain whether the AGC’s interpretation is correct, or to check with the courts to verify its accuracy” was ever asked, debated or answered by anyone?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.