“Mixed reactions” to Halimah being headed for a walkover? We disagree.
Everything ain't good and dandy on the interwebs.
If you were living under a rock for most of Monday (Sep.11), the Presidential Elections Committee announced that two candidates, Salleh Marican and Farid Khan did not qualify as eligible candidates for the upcoming reserved Presidential election.
This leaves Halimah Yacob, the only person who qualified, to be in the running for office via a walkover.
The Straits Times, on its front page story, quoted two political academics with opposing responses to describe observer sentiment as “mixed reactions”:
From Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh:
“Madam Halimah is a double-minority — not only is she a Malay-Muslim individual, but a female… (but) the statement of our acceptance of diversity would have been all the more powerful if there had been an open contest.”
And from NUS political science professor Bilveer Singh:
“Being elected through a walkover does not undermine or delegitimise the winner.”
Now we’re sure there are people who are dandy with the outcome we learned of on Monday. But to call it “mixed” is, as we will argue, a bit of a stretch, given the online reactions that we see —
Various political commentators and figures reacted quite strongly:
Ex-Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng mused that while the Presidential Elections Committee is independent, there were other candidates who would have qualified, but did not step up.
Playwright Alfian Sa’at said that this was “true to form”, saying that it came from a “long, iniquitous history of rigging the system”.
Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan said it was a sad day for Singapore, echoing Alfian’s criticism of the elections criteria having been revised to pave the way for the walkover.
Workers’ Party NCMP Daniel Goh was feeling exhausted, and “uninspired”, even saying that he felt “sian” as he heard the news of the walkover.
Political analyst Derek Da Cunha also said it was a forgone conclusion on his part, adding that he felt the government would not have to pay any political price for its actions:
But there were also non-political folks who spoke up.
NUS Architecture assistant professor and heritage advocate Imran Bin Tajudeen had this to say:
While blogger Winston Tay, who writes at Blogfather.sg, said this:
Even a freelance videographer, Victoria Stephanie Tay, shared her take:
Singaporean meme pages had a field day too:
One company even took the chance to jump on the victory bandwagon:
The creative folks didn’t let the walkover topic, well, walk away either.
A Good Citizen’s Dan Wong also paid tribute to the walkover, depicting Halimah as Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.
Someone even wrote poetry.
And comic artist Sonny Liew weaved in another recent event that appears to have been overtaken by this:
Not all sad
But hey, there were some who were happy:
And at least one who was very happy:
And others who felt that at least the good thing was showing that we had role models in Salleh Marican and Farid Khan as successful Malay figures in the community.
But ultimately, it’s not going to stop Singaporeans from feeling a little shortchanged, somehow.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Oh well.