Tommy Koh for President!!! Oops!

Jan 03, 2017 08.42AM |

IF YOU’VE been too busy saying goodbye to the old year and ushering in the new over the long weekend, you really haven’t missed all that much. The world didn’t change – the taking of innocent lives continues followed by an almost ritualised bout of mourning, condemnations over the world and a message claiming responsibility from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Is this the new normal? Ms Zeynep Ozman, whose brother, Ali, was wounded in the nightclub attack in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve said what was “I don’t want to say anything political but this can’t be accepted as the new norm.”

Turkey continues to search for the gunman who brandished what looked like a Kalashnikov for 20 minutes at an upscale nightclub patronised by well-heeled Turks and tourists. He killed 39 people and wounded 65.

While terrorists didn’t rest over the holidays, the rest of the world seemed to be mulling over what to make of 2016 and predicting what is to come. In Singapore, The Straits Times (ST) did a poll on the word that best describes the year. We have a column on this later.

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But what of the future? MSM is busy putting together what Singaporeans can expect, such as the Presidential election due by August, changes to Eldershield and new regulations governing town councils. On the economic front, the Prime Minister thinks Singapore will grow by 1 to 2 per cent this year. Last year’s economic figures aren’t out yet, but it will fall between 1 and 1.5 per cent.

Over the long weekend, there were the usual car crashes and accidents, the most recent involving a driver in his 80s who rammed into a two-storey shophouse in Chinatown yesterday morning. No one was hurt, thankfully, although the same cannot be said for a 60-year-old woman who is now in a coma after a vehicle, said to be a lorry, knocked into her at Bukit Panjang on Friday evening (Dec 30). Her family is appealing for eye-witnesses.

The most interesting look-forward column is penned by Professor Tommy Koh and published in ST today, headlined 2017: Three great expectations. He is taking an optimistic look at three milestone events that will happen this year: the inauguration of Mr Donald Trump as United States president on Jan 20, the 50th anniversary of Asean and reserved election for Singapore’s President due by August.

As we said, he chose an optimistic take.

Here’s the short version:

While everybody wonders if Mr Trump will show his isolationist and protectionist tendencies once he takes the hot seat, Prof Koh trained his sights on two Trump nominees: General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as defence secretary and Mr Rex Tillerson, as secretary of state. Prof Koh describes General Mattis as a “tough minded military commander” and Mr Tillerson, who leads ExxonMobil as a free trader who supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership and who is in favour of the US acceding to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. “He is not an ideologue but a pragmatist.”

While everyone wonders if Asean can continue to remain a united force given the recent divisions over China’s sabre-rattling in the South China Sea, Prof Koh looks at how Asean has defied all predictions on its demise in the part and enumerates its achievements.

Then he spoke of the elected presidency which will be reserved for a Malay candidate this time round. He said his Malay friends did not like the idea of having such an election as it went against the principle of meritocracy. He himself liked the old system of Parliament electing the president.

“We have two competing principles at play: the principle of meritocracy and the principle of inclusiveness.

“In most situations, the principle of meritocracy should prevail over the principle of inclusiveness. However, in this case, I would like the principle of inclusiveness to prevail over the principle of meritocracy. I therefore look forward to voting for an eminently qualified Malay candidate next year to be our eighth president.”

Pity he’s not eligible.


Featured image from TMG file.

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