The independence of an Indepedent Presidency
Low Thia Khiang raised the thorny issue of how independent is our Independent Presidency in Parliament. He reckoned that the two key system is as good as two keys opening simultaneously, or two keys working as one. This has led to the call for a more transparent process in the excercising of the presidential powers. Tharman replied that our system is sound, run by men of high integrity and challenged Low to question their ability to act as honourable men. We are in fact in a very privilege position at this moment in time to talk and debate over the issue of how independent is our Presidency and whether there is a need to be more transparent to let it be seen that the Presidency is indeed independent. At the moment it is all about faith, the faith of good men in office. Otherwise the issue would not even be raised, that there is no doubt in the people's mind. Now, what do we have in practice now? We have a President in office who was a candidate nominated and sponsored by the govt. A govt's candidate, and walked into the office by default because of the stringent criteria that ruled out the possibility of more candidates being qualified to contest for the position. And he is assisted by a Presidential Council of eminent citizens, also nominated by the govt. It is only natural that the independence of the President becomes an issue. We are fortunate that the President has not been called upon to exercise his powers on controversial issues. If there be a day, the President's independence will not just be discussed in Parliament only. It is obvious that for the President to work independently, he needs to be independent or not too closely linked with the govt. And this applies to the Presidential Council as well. We are all familiar with the chorus, 'All the King's men.' Parliament also raised the issue of the transparency in the process in which the Presidential Council and the President would have to walk through before coming to their decision. This is still not apparent to the people. The other point that I would like to raise is the possibility of the two keys opening the vault in the middle of the night. Is that possible? Would there be an alarm system when the vault was opened, by two keys, but without proper authorisation? Who guards the vault to prevent such a happening?