Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Presidential Check List

Choosing a President is never an easy task as many of my Singaporean friends will no doubt tell you.  Later this month they go to the polls once again; this time to choose President Nathan's replacement.

I confess to be living back in a country that doesn't have such an office.  We cling to the last vestiges of our colonial past with a Governor General as our Head of State and the Queen's representative.  There are those who would like to replace the G.G. with a President but I am not one of them.  This preference is based on my observations of the shenanigans that surround the presidential electoral process in other countries -  the States and Italy being amongst the worst examples.

Despite my reservations I couldn't help but wonder what my own checklist for picking a suitable President might be?  I have come up with the following:

  1. Pick someone who hasn't been born with a silver spoon on their mouth.
    A man of the people needs to have been fully immersed in the day to day life of the community through face-to-face service throughout their working life. Only then can they truly claim to be the people's president.
  2. Removed from Government machinations
    Even though the presidential role is largely ceremonial a President need to be perceived to be clearly aside from the ambitions of the government of the day, and to have been so for some considerable time.  Not out of touch nor diametrically opposed to those in power, but able to provide the necessary impartial political checks and balances as and when required.
  3.  Sound moral fibre
    A predilection to the demon drink and chasing hotel maids (or airline stewardesses) might be seen as an attribute in some European countries but it does not project the country in the best light and such a candidate should be discounted with alacrity. And don't be lulled by the false sense that the average age of most presidential hopefuls is at least seventy; many still have the libido to make themselves a nuisance if they are that way inclined.
  4. Gravitas
    Pomp without pomposity should be a defining attribute.  The ability to carry out Presidential ceremonial duties with the dignity of the office in tact I see as essential.  A mumbling moron with a slouch, one who doesn't know his knife from his fork simply will not do.
  5. Fiscal Prudence
    If your Presidential salary is in the millions and you banquet by candlelight most nights of the week it could be very easy to lose touch with reality.  Someone who has been able to manage a family budget in reduced circumstances would have the edge when it came to my pick.  If they knew where the best value for money chicken rice was in the Heartland, even better!
As to the Singaporean election we can be assured of one thing; the next President will be a President Tan.  The questions remains, which one?

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