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Tharman Inaugurated as President: Is This the Start of the PAP’s Headaches Before the Next General Election?

RONALD LEE: It’s no longer Tharman, but President Tharman, following his inauguration as Singapore’s head of state yesterday (14 Sep).

Mr President swamped his 2 rivals and claimed an overwhelming 70 percent of the vote during the presidential election campaign.

He has promised Singaporeans that he will be “scrupulous and independent”.

And therein lies the potential headache for the PAP, which is the same problem that has plagued the English football team – expectations of the public.

The PAP likely endorsed President Tharman because they trust that he will not rock the boat.

Singaporeans voted beyond opposition/PAP lines because they trust that Mr Tharman will be a good president.

But how will he be able to demonstrate this, if he is unable to rock the boat, or be publicly seen to be doing that?

He could become another Halimah Yacob – who during her 6-year term as president was known derisorily as “rubber stamp”, “the appointed one”, and #notmypresident.

The same for her predecessor, Tony Tan.

All were PAP-endorsed candidates, and all did little to “rock the boat”.

Singaporeans, as seen in public poll results over the years, have come to knowd President Tharman the “prime minister we wished we had”.

If his wings are clipped as president, there will be backlash against the PAP.

For one, having wasted the immense talent of a man Singapore’s hoped would lead the nation and not become a rubber stamp.

And secondly, for leaving the popular politician no choice but to become that rubber stamp, against the wishes of the Singaporean populace who preferred him in an executive role.

Just like GE2011 and PE2011, this discontent will manifest itself at the polls.

So, is this the start of the PAP’s headaches before the next General Election, or will President Tharman get to step up and show exactly how “scrupulous and independent” he truly is?

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