Showing posts with label Singapore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Singapore. Show all posts

Friday, September 01, 2023

Presidential elections in Singapore.. Tharman is the likely successor to Halima Yaqoub

    Friday, September 01, 2023   No comments

Since its secession from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965 until today, Singapore has known only 3 prime ministers, while 8 presidents have succeeded in that small country in Southeast Asia, which is described as a "city-state"; With an area of 710 square kilometers, and a population of 5 million people, half of whom are foreigners coming to work, making it the fourth country in the world in terms of population density.

Singapore is a country of many races, ethnicities and religions, 3 quarters of its citizens are of the Chinese race, while the rest of the population belongs to the Malay race or mixed Indian or Eurasian race. As many ethnicities as there are many religions in Singapore as well and include Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity.

All three prime ministers that Singapore has known came from ethnic Chinese - the largest of Singapore's ethnicities - and from one party, the People's Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore continuously since 1959.


And while the presidency of the government remained confined to the Chinese ethnicity, the ethnicities of those who assumed the position of head of state, which is an honorary position, varied, as they include, in addition to the Chinese ethnicity, the Malay and Indian ethnicities, and others of mixed ethnicities as well.


The religions of these presidents also varied between Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The first president of the state was Youssef bin Ishaq, whose image is placed on the country’s banknotes. He is a Malay Muslim who held the position for 3 consecutive terms from the founding of the state until his death in 1970. While it was Executive power is in the hands of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and builder of Singapore and its first prime minister, who has been in office for 3 continuous decades.


The current president, Halima Yaqoub, 70, is a Muslim of the Malay ethnicity. She took office in 2017 after winning by acclamation, without a competitor, declaring that she was satisfied with one 6-year term that ends on September 17. Then, today, Friday, multi-party elections will be held to choose a successor.

In contrast to the position of prime minister, which the parties compete for in general legislative elections; The position of the president is non-partisan under the constitution, and the parliament remained the one who elects the president, until the constitution was amended in 1991, allowing him to be elected through presidential elections. Today's elections, Friday, are only the third since the constitutional amendment that transformed this position into a position elected by the public and gave the public the right to choose.


What is unique to Singapore in the requirements for a candidate for the presidency is that he has worked either as a senior government employee or CEO of a company whose shareholders have a value of at least 500 million Singapore dollars (370 million US dollars).


Although the role of the president in Singapore is largely ceremonial, there are strict requirements for the position, which formally oversees the country's accumulated financial reserves that can only be relied upon in exceptional circumstances, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2009 global financial crisis. With the power to veto certain actions and to approve anti-corruption investigations.


Three candidates who meet the conditions are competing in the elections taking place today, namely the Deputy Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the youngest of the three candidates (65) and the most fortunate, compared to his competitors; They are Ing Kok Song, 75, and Tan Kin Lien, 75.

Economic backgrounds and a major public position appear to be the common denominator among the three contenders, who the election administration announced that they met the strict criteria for competition among the applicants for candidacy.


The announcement of their official acceptance of the candidacy came less than two weeks before the elections were held today, which is a very short period compared to the rest of the world, and was the object of the complaint of the candidate, Tan Kin Lien, who saw it as an insufficient period for the electoral campaign that ended last Wednesday before the election day of silence yesterday, Thursday.


The nominee, Ing Kok Song, is a former chief investment officer at the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund that manages the country's foreign reserves, and spent more than 4 decades working in public service until his retirement in 2013. Ing is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Avanda Management Corporation. Investments worth billions of dollars.


Having spent years working closely with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Eng admitted he might be seen as "part of the establishment". However, he believes that the lack of direct political affiliation makes him an independent candidate. He never joined the Popular Action Party, which has ruled the country since its independence six decades ago. He believes that his long experience in the financial sector puts him in a good position to protect the national reserves.


As for Tan Kin Lien, a former presidential candidate in Singapore, this is his second attempt to win the position. Having come last out of 4 candidates in the 2011 presidential election, he is a former chairman of one of Singapore's leading insurance companies and has the support of several opposition leaders.


Layan presided over the International Federation of Cooperative and Mutual Insurance from 1992 to 1997, and the federation was an international organization that at that time represented 123 insurance groups in 65 countries, and employed 260,000 people. The total assets of the members of this international association amounted to 1.5 trillion US dollars in 1997.

As for the most likely candidate, Deputy Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, he is a multi-ethnic Singaporean citizen (Tamil-Indian-Ceylon) who is known as a supporter of the ruling People's Action Party, but he submitted his resignation before his candidacy. He is widely seen as having the support of the government, and has been questioned about his independence during the election campaign.


Before resigning his government positions to contest this election, Tharman spent more than two decades in office with the People's Action Party, rising to the position of Deputy Prime Minister.


He was first elected to Parliament in 2001 and was Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also served as the Coordinating Minister for Social Policy, and provided economic advice to Prime Minister Lee.


He said that if given the opportunity to lead, he would be "total and impartial in the discharge of the constitutional duties of office in respect of the prudent use of the country's reserves".


While his rivals seemed preoccupied with their party independence, Tharman urged voters to judge candidates on their record, rather than their past affiliations.


"If I am lucky enough to be elected president, I will represent the unity of Singaporeans, of all races, religions, social backgrounds and political leanings, at a time when views among the population are becoming more diverse," he said.


Since Tharman entered Singaporean politics just over two decades ago, he has avoided constant calls from the public that he should become the next prime minister of the Southeast Asian country.


Tharman - who is very popular and has risen in the ranks of the ruling People's Action Party, and is very popular among members of the opposition - insists that he is not suitable for the position of prime minister. He even likened his refereeing skills to those of a soccer goal-maker, saying that he is better as a team player who can provide assists than a superstar who scores goals. "I enjoy making long passes," he said. "But I'm not the striker."


His candidacy is thus a far cry from the quest for the premiership currently held by Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore's founding prime minister. He is expected to retire and choose his successor before the country's next general election in 2025.


But it is a step that helps avoid the looming question of whether the Chinese-majority country (or the ruling party) that promotes its multi-ethnic and pluralistic society is ready or reluctant to elevate someone from an ethnic minority to the position of prime minister.


Also unique to Singapore is voting, which is compulsory for more than 2.7 million eligible citizens of Singapore. Those who do not vote without valid reason are subject to being removed from the voter list.


He also notes the absence of long, orderly lines at polling stations, as well as the raucous atmosphere that can accompany elections in other countries, with supporters cheering or handing out flyers to push for last-minute votes. And "presidential elections are increasingly being treated as a general election."


Today's presidential elections are being watched closely as an indication of support for the ruling Popular Action Party after a rare series of political scandals that rocked the party recently, which is rare in a country that has benefited from the reputation of its clean government, and has become an international center for a group of industries such as finance and aviation, especially since the party has suffered from its worst electoral performance ever in 2020; However, he maintained his majority of more than two-thirds.

Observers said the vote could indicate the level of support for the PAP ahead of general elections scheduled for 2025 or discontent after recent scandals that include a corruption investigation into the transport minister and the resignation of two PAP lawmakers over an affair.

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Thursday, June 01, 2023

The quiet rise and rule of Singapore that cannot be unnoticed by its loud neighbors and distant friends

    Thursday, June 01, 2023   No comments

Singapore is rarely in the news. Countries, other than Western countries, are usually in the news because bad things are happening in them. That is one of the persistent biases of Western media. Here, we review several news stories covering events in Singapore, this multiethnic and multireligious countries, with its Muslim woman president, Halimah Yacob, though the position of the President of Singapore is ceremonial, her presence in the presidency will be useful in integrating Singapore's economy with that of Muslim-majority neighbors like Indonesia and Malaysia as well as the 57-nation bloc of Muslim-majority countries around the world.

Singapore overtakes Hong Kong as the most expensive Asia-Pacific city for private homes

Singapore’s private homes are now the most expensive in Asia-Pacific, having overtaken Hong Kong, according to a new report.

Data from the Home Attainability Index from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia Pacific Centre for Housing showed the median price of Singapore’s private homes was $1.2 million in 2022, compared to Hong Kong’s $1.16 million.


Private rental homes in Singapore also had the highest monthly rent in the region at $2,600 — “far exceeding” other cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong, according to the report...

Read the full article here.


The article below makes the case for Singapore as being better in more than just one aspect.


Why Singapore is superior to Hong Kong in almost every way

It’s amusing to read comments by local property tycoon Ronnie Chan Chi-chung about places such as Singapore being “artificial”, “charmless” and “super boring”. Hong Kong, on the other hand, has the six “Gs” that are its unique advantages: genetics, geography, a culture of giving, the GBA (Greater Bay Area), its government and grey matter.

Really? The problem with tycoons everywhere, and not just in Hong Kong, is that they feel free to pontificate because they are rarely challenged, well, not in their face anyway. So I am glad reader John Chan of Singapore has written a rebuttal, pointing out that the city state enjoys both higher per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and median monthly household income. It’s doing very well, thank you very much!

Maybe Ronnie Chan can counter, as you would if you are a tycoon, that the capitalisation of Hong Kong’s stock market far exceeds that of Singapore or that the latter’s IPO market is minuscule compared to his city’s. Hong Kong has Disneyland, but hey, they have Universal Studios.

But all these comparisons are superficial.

The fundamental fact is that Singapore is a city state, rather than... read article


Politically, Singapore is oftten courted by other countries to take side in relation to global matters. This article is one example.


Europe sends big hitters to Singapore to rally Asian allies against Russia


Europe is fretting that Asia isn’t doing enough to condemn Russia and support Ukraine — and it’s revving up efforts to sway Asian officials in person. 

On Friday, an unprecedentedly high-profile European delegation will converge in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security forum. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will be there, as will EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, flanked by Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. 

U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is also expected to attend in person — as are Boris Pistorius, Kajsa Ollongren and Pål Jonson, the defense ministers from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Their goal: Rally more Asian countries to help Kyiv.

While many Asian nations initially joined in condemning Russia’s invasion at the United Nations, countries like India and Vietnam continue to count on Russian military or energy supplies, while Western allies Japan and South Korea are unable to... read article








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