But the real surprise is how well Dr. Tan Cheng Bock did losing by a mere 0.34% of the votes. Dr Tony Tan secured 744,397 or 35.19 per cent of total valid votes, while Dr Tan Cheng Bock received 737,128 or 34.85 per cent of the valid votes.The difference is a mere 7300 votes.
This year the role of the president was the hot topic of the PE. You noticed that Low Thia Kiang had firmly and shrewdly kept the WP out of the PE...while NSP's Nicole Seah and Steve Chia were running around campaigning for Tan Jee Say along side members of the SDP. The WP is very clear about the role of parliament in policy making and do not want a pro-active president to undermine the power and authority of parliament. In fact when the PE was first proposed, JBJ who was heading the WP specifically warned about an elected president taking away some of the parliament's power.
Watch this video and you will realise the wisdom in JBJ's argument.
A elected president selected by the people will have a mandate, power and moral authority that will give our govt additional challenges if he doesn't stick to the 'limited role' as laid out in the constitution. For this reason the WP opposed having an EP. What is the use anyway? If it is to prevent a rogue govt, then the factors that led to people voting a 'rogue' govt will also lead to support for the same type of president.
The presidential election naturally becomes an extension for the segment of people who find themselves under-represented after the results of the GE. 40% voted against the PAP are represented by a small number of MPs due to the GRC system. It becomes hard to the PAP to keep the President to the limited scope unless their endorsed candidates win all future elections.
The best safeguard for our reserves is a people with the correct set of values...and Singaporeans have that. Foremost on the minds of Singaporeans is not how to raid and squarder the reserves but how to prevent catastrophic losses like what we have seen in recent years and greater transparency. Dr. Tony Tan the PAP endorsed candidate only garnered 35% of the votes and 65% of the people voted against him. You can argue that if the votes were not split and if Tan Jee Say had not run, Tan Cheng Bock would have won and if Tan Cheng Bock did not run, Tan Jee Say might have won. People generally see little purpose in having a PAP endorsed candidate check on a PAP govt. If a non-PAP endorsed candidate wins, they are looking at him to play some other role as 'uniter', 'voice of the people' and 'agent of change' - all of which can be played by MPs.
What do you make of the PE now? Things have become a lot more fluid....and somewhat unnecessarily complex. The under-representation problems caused by the GRC will now spill into presidential elections to drive demand for bigger role for the president. We would have a simpler system if we eliminate GRCs, the PE and put all the political power in parliament with the check and balance coming from opposition MPs and an independent media that keeps the people informed.
You go back to the video that is 19 years old and you see a very young Lee Hsien Loong arguing for an elected president. 19 years later, he and his govt is vigorously reminding the public that the intended role of the president is very narrow and small.....and many just don't see it that way. Why should they when the whole country goes out to vote for one man to occupy the office of president? That was what JBJ tried to warn the young Lee Hsien Loong about...and that is why the WP stayed out of the fray to keep iself focussed on winning parliamentary seats.