ELSON: The government’s move to change the Constitution to allow the President and ministers to accept appointments within foreign and international organisations has raised questions of ethics regarding the Tharman presidency.
What is particularly important to note is the government wants to apply this change retroactively, from 14 September – the date Tharman was appointed president.
Because of the key question in many people’s minds – if there’s nothing wrong, why the need to change things?
So far, this question has gone unanswered by lawmakers.
Especially the part about the potential for conflict of interest.
No one is alleging corrupt behaviour, but the whole suka suka change the Constitution raises a big stink similar to PE2017 when the Constitution was also suka suka changed to allow for a “reserved election”.
At the time of his appointment as president, Tharman held various positions with international organisations.
These include being on the board of trustees of the G30, co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, serving on the advisory board for the UN Human Development Report, and participating in the board of trustees for the World Economic Forum.
As a matter of ethics, should he have been barred from running since this new law had not been in place yet?
Why the need to apply the law retroactively, so that it applies to the PAP-backed Tharman, if all was fine and dandy when he was running for the presidency?
It just feels like the PAP-dominated government doesn’t learn its lesson.
Just before the Tharman saga, there was Shanmugam and Vivian’s Ridout Rd bungalows.
Sure, there was no corrupt behaviour found, but Singaporeans raised questions about how ethically right it is for a minister to rent a property from the very agency that he is in charge of, and to even direct a civil servant from that agency to acquire information on the property for him.
So, coming back to the question about Tharman – if there’s nothing wrong in the first place, why the need to change the Constituiton and apply the changes a month back?