2 reasons why Mr George Yeo shouldn’t

… join the race to become Singapore’s next president.

First, like he said, he is not “temperamentally suited for such a job”, which carries one responsibility that I think no one should be asked to do — and that is to sign the execution order for those condemned* to die by our courts.

How would Mr Yeo, a self-confessed “free spirit”, react when families of death row prisoners send petition after petition asking for their loved ones to be spared?

Sure, the president has no power to gainsay a death sentence and must abide by the advice of the Cabinet.

But in his private moments, in his secret conscience, would he not be forced to recall the story of Pontius Pilate? Could he sleep well on the night be4 the execution or wake up feeling good on the morning when he gets up knowing that someone, somewhere in Singapore has been hanged on his orders?

The second reason why Mr Yeo shouldn’t attempt the presidential election is that he might well lose, whether in a two or three-horse race. How would he feel to lose two elections in a row, not having lost one till this year in his decades long political career? Could his self-confidence survive such bruising within the span of a few months?

If he really needs to have something to do apres Aljunied, he should look no further than the forever urbane Tommy Koh as a template. Professor Koh has reinvented himself many times over and seems to have the secret to being forever relevant whatever the year, the season or the reason.

* I’m no Alan Shadrake and I’m not against capital punishment as such for heinous crimes. Indeed, when i was robbed at gun-n-knife point several years ago — one of 18 victims in a hair dressing salon in Katong Shopping Centre that was hit by 3 armed robbers — my first thought was that all the bastards should be hanged! Alas, none of the culprits were ever caught! In calmer moments though, I feel terribly for the burden we impose on fellow citizens when we task them to carry out the country’s death penalty!


45 thoughts on “2 reasons why Mr George Yeo shouldn’t

  1. Hey, very insightful and thoughtful. Agree whole heartedly. Congrats on succinct piece.

  2. There has already been a precedence set by George Yeo. He was the one who proposed the setting up of casinos, under the guise of integrated resorts. Ask him whether he had slept well all these years, since the opening of the two casinos.

    It could be God’s will to end his political career as a Minister with the PAP. That could be the retributon that he deserved to be defeated in the GE 2011 at the Aljunied Battle Ground.

    Sometimes, the mysteries and miracles of Heaven cannot be simply understood by mere mortals.

  3. To Thewrathofgrapes: U r just sour grapes lah. 😛

    $4.3 million isn’t a lot of $comfort in exchange for a troubled mind. Personally, even 10X that won’t be any comfort; but since we, the hand wringers, force other pple to do things we baulk at so that we can have a safe country, $4.3 million is really and truly small payment. Less than $1 per capita per annum 😆

  4. Conscience Speaks: Personally, I just love having the casinos right on our doorstep. Safe and convenient. So i don’t understand at all why there’s so much bad press about them.

    And if you must bring God into your argument, just remember that God helps those who help themselves. Also, in the Bible it is stated that rain falls equally on the just and unjust. Nobody forces anyone to go into a casino; eat meat; pray. We are free to do or not do so. That’s y God has given everone free will; not predestination! 🙄

  5. Oh I remember this case. I know the place. It was called “Melodin” hair saloon. The other one with the same name was at Lor 18 or 22 Geylang Rd. I think not around anymore. There were 2 then. I know the lady boss and one of the make up beautician. Years later I came to know th wife of one of the gunmen who is serving life imprisonment now! It is really a small world. You must be at least middle age. Maybe above 50 yrs old? Time flies. Cheers !

  6. Hi Gintai: don’t think it’s the same hair dressing salon altho I can’t remember the name. A friend was working there. That’s y I went.

    As far as I know none of the robbers were ever arrested. Several years after the event I made inquiries at the CID and the inspectors confirmed that the case remained unsolved. Anyway, if any of the robbers were caught n tried, I’m sure all of us who were robbed would have been contacted to testify in court. I certainly wasn’t notified. 😦

  7. Oh yes. The case remains un-solved. Very correct. But the gunman was arrested in another case serving life sentence WAS involved or knew those robbers there. Those in the underworld know each other lah. I not sure. I only heard from that lady fren of mine. She could be not telling me the whole truth. However I can confirm that the saloon is Melodin with another br at Geylang Rd cuz I know Mei Ling who used to be a top make up artist. She also did tattoos of the eyebrow. She was working for the lady boss who is her aunt. Mei Ling was attached to the Geylang Br though. After so many yrs all these facts or events became blur lah. All those ladies inside were robbed of all their jewelleries and cash. Used to be a top place for the rich tais tais! Correct me if I am wrong.

  8. Debate yes, but do not take those in authority as ‘equals’
    The Straits Times (Singapore) 20 Feb 1995 p11

    Remember your place in society before you engage in political debate, said Information and the Arts Minister George Yeo yesterday.

    Debate cannot degenerate into a free-for-all where no distinction is made between the senior and junior party, or what the Hokkiens describe as ‘boh tua, boh suay’.

    You must make distinctions—what is high, what is low, what is above, what is below—and then within this, we can have a debate, we can have a discussion, he added.

    Speaking to reporters … on the parameters of debate, an issue sparked off by the Catherine Lim controversy, he made it clear that people should not take on those in authority as ‘equals’. The Prime Minister responded to writer Catherine Lim for her article on his governing style because her tone showed disrespect for authority.

    Brig-Gen (NS) Yeo recalled that in 1991, the National Trades Union Congress raised a rumpus when Straits Times columnist Sumiko Tan criticised then union-MP Goh Chee Wee for his speech in Parliament.

    Mr Goh felt that Miss Tan was ‘wagging her finger at him’, he said. Likewise, during last year’s Budget debate, Parliament took issue with ST columnist Cherian George for his comments on the Speaker’s handling of the guillotine. ‘He had no right to speak to the Speaker as an equal.’

    Pointing to a more recent example, he noted that the judiciary responded when American academic Christopher Lingle took ‘pot shots’ at it in an article he wrote in the International Herald Tribune. He added: ‘This is not to say that MPs, ministers, Speakers or judges cannot be criticised … They ought to be criticised if they are wrong but it should always be done in a way which doesn’t tear the social fabric.’

    He said that these individuals did not arrogate to themselves the right to receive respect: MPs were elected while judges were appointed in a solemn ceremony.

    Turning to examples abroad, he said the British monarchy had fallen into disrepute because newspapers cirticise the royals to increase circulation. But the Thais threw those who criticise the royals into prison.

    ‘Every society creates immune systems to defend its own key organs and we must have the immune system in Singapore. Otherwise, by slow increments, we allow these organs to be infected and degraded. And that is not good for us, it is not good for the health of whole society.’

  9. April 2005 in Parliament – Goh Chok Tong: “Right from the beginning, I kept an open mind on the casino question. When the subject was first broached by George Yeo, the Minister for Trade and Industry, PM and many Ministers were against it. The project nearly did not see the light of day. But George Yeo persisted. As the Minister in charge of the economy, he had to persist.”

  10. /// Less than $1 per capita per annum 😆 ///

    auntie – yes, according to ESM, that works out to be one quarter plate of char kway teow….

  11. Hi Bluexspore. Wah u impress me. Like Goody2shoez, one of my fav bloggers, u have endless access to archives. Hmmm… u a historian?

    Wotever my personal feelings for GY, if he’s the prime mover behind our casinos, then I say two cheers for him 😀

  12. Bluexpore, GY did/does hav a somewhat pompous view towards the great unwashed. He was famous for chiding anyone who took on the Govt as “bor dua, bor suay”. Still, the journalists singled out for scolding haven’t done too badly have they? Even Dr Catherine Lim 🙄

    Mayb it’s a case of those whom the gods love, they first destroy? Or there’s no such thing as bad publicity; only no publicity? 😆

  13. This is for Gintai. Like u say, it’s a long time ago, so things aren’t so clear cut. But from the way you tell the story, the robbery seems like an inside job? Am I correct in interpreting what you wrote? 😦

  14. Haha, Tang, that’s a cheap shot! To criticise anyone as such, you must prove that u aren’t one yrself 😆

  15. Emperor’s new clothes.

    Let’s see.
    2 months ago, I was a globe-trotting Foreign Minister.
    Able to spout PAP loyalist statements in between a plate of char kway teow and a bowl of cheng tng.

    I resign my political party membership today.
    And tomorrow … magic!!
    I am now a born again political neutral.

    “Karna, Karma, Karma, Karma,
    You come and go
    You come and go”

    Lyrics from song “Karma Chameleon” by Boy George

  16. Haha, Polig456! I like Karma Chameleon! Thanks for the Youtube link 😀

    Actually, a man or woman who doesn’t ever change his/her position can’t take his/her trousers/panties off. I once read that in the New Statesman. Think that thru! 😛

  17. Dear AuntieLucia
    Your point is well taken.
    Changing our minds and political position is not necessarily a sign of duplicity. I believe in second chances myself.

    My point is the timing.

    If we really want a “politically neutral” President – there has to be a moratorium period of at least 1-2 years.

    You resign your political party membership today. And for the next 2 years, you are not allowed to run for Presidency. This is to demonstrate your political neutrality in a concrete way … by staying away from politics for 2 years.

    Don’t you find it unseemly for a person to suddenly terminate his long held political party membership today … just to qualify to run for Presidency.

    And so what happens after he loses.?
    Reapply for political membership again 2 days after the elections are over?

    I hope I am not ranting.
    But there is only so much bull#$%^ I can swallow in one lifetime.

    “Highest home-ownership in the world”
    All HDB flats belong to HDB
    We are only leaseholders.
    That’s why HDB can evict us from “our” HDB flats if we don’t follow the HDB rules.
    HDB makes the rules because they are the owners.

    Sorry. Now I know I am ranting.

  18. Auntie – you are not keeping up with the PAP’s penchant for new political titles. ESM = Emeritus Senior Minister – conferred on Goh Chok Tong.

  19. Polig456, I get yr point too: mayb after the upcoming P-election Parliament can once again amend the criteria for eligibility to stand? That way, the 2017 president wannabes would be subject to such political gardening leave. Get the Opp members to start this ball rolling?

    As for HDB, I say those subsidised to own such homes are having it way too good and the Govt has been doing wrong to provide the bulk of housing out of state coffers to the majority who can’t afford a home anyway or worse, who can afford a home but want to milk state subsidies.

    Actually, what you say abt HDB owners being mere leaseholders applies to private property owners too, when it comes to the Land Acquisition Act. N other Acts that make it possible for the Govt to use your land temporarily for national interest, such as building escape hatches for MRT stations right in front of yr home, without any compensation for the inconvenience that lasts 2/3/4 years. HDB owners have it better, as Govt isn’t going to evict anyone unless they’ve contravened HDB rules such as sub-letting without permission etc. And eviction doesn’t mean the owners get nothing back. They get back what they paid (or is it MV?) for the repossessed flats. OK, now I’m ranting too! 😉

  20. I agree with you. Was at a dinner recently where both the President and George Yeo were in attendance. Somehow I can’t visualise him doing all those things that President Nathan does now. Maybe 8 years later but not now.

  21. Dear AuntieLucia
    I do appreciate the points you are making.

    But respectfully, you miss my point about calling a spade, a spade.
    i.e. HDB flats belong to HDB. Flat owners are leaseholders.
    It’s not dissent. It’s just the truth.

    Language accuracy is not just semantics.
    It is the very foundation for “hard truths”.
    Without accuracy in language, there is no enduring framework (hard truths) for clarity in thought.
    George Orwell warned of this in his seminal book “1984”.

    When we lease a car for say 2 years.
    We only pay leasing money to the car owner on a monthly basis.

    After 1 year, if car owner wants to upgrade car to include a VCD player and screen. Car owner and not leaseholder pays the full amount.
    So if Lift Upgrading, HDB should pay in full (as the owner).
    And if HDB leaseholder pays a certain percentage of lift upgrading cost, then it’s the HDB leaseholder subsidizing HDB (government).

    Every country has to put a positive spin (white lies) on things.
    Nothing wrong with this.
    Until we start believing in our own press releases.
    Then we start losing our way.
    Bigger untruths are now needed to cover the earlier white lies.
    And the deaf frog syndrome becomes entrenched.

    A pledge is a solemn promise for action.
    It is not an “aspiration”.
    Likewise, our marriage vows are not an aspiration.

    The long series of national blunders over the last 12 months is not due to “bad luck”. The rot started years ago, when we started believing in our own press releases about Singapore.

    Straits Times Headlines (6 June) about flooding in Singapore.
    ” …. very high probability … weather patterns have changed”.

    The serious flooding in Orchard started only about a year ago.
    Weather patterns don’t change so quickly in 1 year.
    And what did we say 1 year ago?
    “It’s a one in 50 years event.”

    Life imitates Art.
    Hollywood says it’s best.

    Dialogue From A FEW GOOD MEN
    Jessep (Jack Nicholson): You want answers?
    Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I want the truth!
    Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

  22. Yah you right. President Nathan was GOH. Bad choice of words. But anyway, looking at a video presentation of the President doing a calligraphy for the event, I can’t picture George Yeo doing the same thing or walking around waving to the people like a genial old gentlemen. So I really hope he doesn’t stand for the presidential election.

  23. IMHO, Tekko, doing caligraphy for charity isn’t the most soul-destroying thing abt the presidency. It’s like when u feel the Govt is wrong yet constitutionally u can’t intervene. Like dat better be an ordinary kay-poh like u n moi!

  24. Polig etc: eh friend, u r ranting! 😛

    Yr analogy of HDB and a leased car is entirely off centre but never mind that’s yr view and I cld write a whole thesis n u still won’t agree!

    Suffice it to say the stand u r taking re HDB convinces me more than ever tt our garmen shld never sell homes to citizens. Rent ultra cheap housing to bottom 20% and let the rest go hang: get private housing or not at all. If up to half of Swiss hav to rent their homes, why not Sg, eh, eh?

  25. Oh yes, Polig, I don’t get yr Hollywood scenarios. Auntie is strictly a Korean drama fan.

  26. ‘As for HDB, I say those subsidised to own such homes are having it way too good and the Govt has been doing wrong to provide the bulk of housing out of state coffers to the majority who can’t afford a home anyway or worse, who can afford a home but want to milk state subsidies.’

    auntielucia, had you posted this anywhere else on the internet, you’d be called an elite living in an ivory tower and flamed to high heavens! 😛

  27. Yes, Quirky, I know. That’s y I’m sticking to home ground so tt those with the temerity to call me names here will be zapped to the next age 🙄 Just joking!

    I accept pple who disagree with me agreeably. They can say I appear to be an elite. But do u know, u can own a BMW n live in a direct-bought HDB whereas you can live in a private slum but won’t be allowed to buy a direct-HDB. U call that fair and non-elitist!!!

  28. /// Actually, what you say abt HDB owners being mere leaseholders applies to private property owners too, when it comes to the Land Acquisition Act. ///

    Actually, you don’t even have to invoke the Land Acquisition Act. Most of the private properties, especially condos, are on 99-year leases as well. Only a small proportion of landed properties and condos are on freehold. And even previous freehold land has been converted to 99-year leasehold, with the developer holding the freehold title – such as recent launch of The Shore by Far East Organization.

    So, 99-year leasehold private properties are exactly like HDB flats, but I have yet to hear anyone decry the fact that they do not “own” those properties.

    So far, 99-year leases have not been tested. For private properties, one way out of this bind is through en-bloc sales. For HDB, the equivalent mechanism is SERS.

  29. Dear, dear Ismail! Welcome to my blog! Yr comment: that’s yet another reason y Uncle George shouldn’t offer himself 😉

  30. Thanks for your support TheGrapesofWrath! Donch know why pple keep going on abt HDB leasehold, as if they’ve never heard of leaseholds in other countries such as the UK, where leases could be as short as 30 years. And that place is supposed to to be bedrock of democracy! 😆

  31. AL

    Fortunately you are not a politico and your viewspoint put across are definitely not PC.

    Will agree in principle that no diff due to Land Acquisition Act.
    Further, in a number of Euro countries and nearby countries, leases run from as short of 10years but to max 50years.
    No upgrading etc.

    The main issue to me, is that unfortunately the Govt of the day did to take up the offer to purchase the 2 Indon islands for hefty % of reserves at time and so Singapore has no country side for those who want a slower pace of life.


  32. Hi Wang Wang: that’s my fav bikkie, by the way! Anyway, thks for supporting my line of argument against those bellyacheing over HDB leases. As for being PC: who care to be, when I’m not running for any office. The only thing I run is my own home n even then, I try to outsource as much of that as poss.

    As for Indon isles: no need for that lah. With our strong S$ savings, we cld go anywhere within 4 hrs flite time and still live OK, if space is what we hanker for. For me however, the better alternative to Sg is HK and that place is as crowded as it comes, but better infrastructured where transport is concerned..

  33. Actually, Quirky, I have here and there in this blog. Will oblige one of these days and summarise all my thoughts in a new post. Meanwhile, just remember this: property will in increase in value in the long run. But remember also, some wag once said: in the long run, we’d all be dead. Hur, hur, hur! 🙄

  34. 🙂 thanks in advance, auntielucia.

    ‘But do u know, u can own a BMW n live in a direct-bought HDB whereas you can live in a private slum but won’t be allowed to buy a direct-HDB. U call that fair and non-elitist!!!’

    on second thoughts the problem with this argument is that you can argue that cars are luxuries but houses are not, so they should not be lumped together in the same category…?

  35. Quirky, if u can afford luxury, esp such a luxury, tt means yr basic needs — ie housing — already met. If u insist tax payers look after yr basic needs, so that u can splash and flash, why can’t those responsible enough to look after their basic needs, then tell the govt, “hey, guv, gimme a direct HDB for a rainy day?” Or better still, gimme a BMW (the car, not bus, mrt, walk) Hur, hur, hur… 🙄

  36. Pingback: Unlce George’s better choice | FOOD fuels me to talk…

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