Calvin Cheng: Speaker of Parliament Role Doesn’t Make Halimah Yacob Fit to be President

Posted on Jul 17 2017 - 8:15pm by Redwire Singapore

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Former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng has urged Mdm Halimah Yacob not to run for president come September.

The controversial online commentator said that it would “detract from the credibility of recent changes to private sector eligibility criteria, if a former Speaker were deemed to have the necessary skill-sets to guard our financial reserves”.

Cheng said that the purpose of more stringent requirements imposed on private sector candidates this year, besides the need to be Malay, was to benchmark their roles to the responsibilities of a Minister, which means managing “huge billion dollar budgets and hundreds to thousands of civil servants.”

Cheng said that the Speaker of Parliament has “no such equivalent responsibility”.

This is Cheng’s online commentary, reproduced in full:

“By all accounts, Madam Halimah Yacob is a warm, compassionate and humble person, and a popular MP; she is well-loved by her constituents. Madam Halimah has also carried out her duties as Speaker of Parliament with dignity, as the first female Speaker of Parliament in Singapore’s history.

However, I feel she should not run for the office of Elected President.

Firstly, she has been elected not only as a Member of Parliament, but as the all-important minority candidate of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. She owes a duty to those who elected her to stay on and fulfil her responsibilities as MP. It would also call the whole raison d’être of the GRC into question, if it is left without a minority representative. The role of Speaker of Parliament is also a vey important one. It shouldn’t be resigned from lightly.

Secondly, although the position of Speaker is equivalent to a Minister in protocol, it surely isn’t in responsibility. One reason for raising the criteria for private sector candidates (chief executive role in a 500m company) was to benchmark it to the responsibilities of a Minister, who has to manage huge billion dollar budgets and hundreds to thousands of civil servants. The Speaker of Parliament has no such equivalent responsibility. It would thus detract from the credibility of recent changes to private sector eligibility criteria, if a former Speaker were deemed to have the necessary skill-sets to guard our financial reserves.

Madam Halimah is already a highly respected MP. She has already cemented her place in history as being the first female Speaker of Parliament. Her services are arguably more needed amongst the constituents she loves, and who love her in return.

I do hope Madam Halimah will seriously consider whether to run for EP, as she is doing, and decide eventually not to.”

 

 

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