Law minister K Shanmugam singles out Tan Cheng Bock’s disqualification from presidency
He wasn't even assuming or speaking hypothetically.
Poor Tan Cheng Bock.
Without being explicitly mentioned in any official communication (and rightfully so) regarding the impending changes to the Elected Presidency, he was on Thursday singled out as clearly being “disqualified” from it under the potential updated criteria.
According to reporting by Channel NewsAsia, straight-talking law minister K Shanmugam volunteered Tan’s name on the topic, which was the subject of a community forum on the proposed changes outlined in the government’s White Paper on:
Q: How will the Government respond to the view that all these changes are just to ensure that some individuals will not get elected?
Mr Shanmugam: You might as well mention the name of Tan Cheng Bock… Dr Tan won’t qualify (under the new eligibility rules) because he didn’t actually run a company. He was (a) non-executive. And of course the company is not S$500m shareholders’ equity. So I think the key thing in this is to really, first leave aside the individual and look at the system. And ask yourself logically, whether… do we, as a Government, do what is right, based on the system, or do we worry (that) some people are going to say this is to knock out people we don’t like? You know, more than 1,000 people will qualify from the private sector. Do you think we know who they are and we can make sure that they are all going to be OK? It’s not possible. (emphasis ours)
This is the first time any government official has expressed this clearly in public. Up till now, this was a subject that was only hypothetically deduced by us and others.
Note also that the question asked didn’t even mention Tan, or any of the other Tans who contested in 2011.
So for Shanmugam to be coming right out to single Tan out as “disqualified” does look like a pretty unusual move.
Especially considering the fact that the government’s proposed changes have not been passed into law — the White Paper hasn’t even been filed in Parliament for debate yet.
But anyway, here’s how Tan responded when he learned about it, in what is perhaps the clearest sign of him expressing his opinion on all this (since, well, we didn’t learn much from his previous post):
Here’s what he wrote, in case you can’t see the post:
“Sorry, Dr Tan Cheng Bock you are disqualified to stand in PE 2017”, says Minister Shanmugam
At a dialogue session on 15 September, a question was asked if the White Paper was directed at preventing certain individuals from running for the PE, Minister Shanmugam quoted my name.
He told the participants and singularly identified me although my name was not mentioned by the audience, that l cannot qualify under the new rule change.
Has he decided that the White Paper is law ahead of parliament debate? Is there some truth after all that the changes in the rules was to make sure l would not be eligible? It would be a sad day for Singaporeans if a Constitutional change was made because of an individual.
More stuff we’ve written about Tan Cheng Bock and changes to the elected presidency:
Images in top photo collage by Ng Yi Shu and Lim Weixiang.