The PM and the President are both part of the Executive;
They are just 2 people and there is a risk that this “single channel” will fail;
The reporting line should be expanded to include the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Shawn noted that Jamus’ objections are rooted in the assumption that the PM and the President are part of the same branch of the Executive, what he described as the ‘the same sort of key entry method’.
Here again, Shawn said that Jamus was mistaken.
To add on to Shawn’s response, wouldn’t having the Legislature as the second key give rise to the ‘single channel’ that Jamus wants to avoid, where the Prime Minister and his MPs form the first and second key respectively?
Our Constitution reflects the arrangements common to many Westminster-style democracies where there is a clear separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Parliament makes laws. The Executive implements them. The Judiciary adjudicates them. This separation exists to ensure proper balance of responsibilities and prevent conflicts of interest.
A/P Lim’s proposals ignore these fundamental principles and conflate the different functions. I worry about this lack of basic understanding of the long-standing principles which underpin our Constitution. Singaporeans too should be concerned as to the ramifications and consequences of what WP-style governance would mean for Singapore.
Interestingly, Jamus wrote that he did not buy PM Lee’s argument that ‘it comes down to finding good people’. The reason Jamus gave was that ‘even very good people can stumble’ as recent events have shown. Hence, he would ‘choose institutions every time’.
This is a fallacy in argument. It’s as good as saying that because there are a few rotten apples in the basket, it does not matter if the rest of the apples are good or not. You just need a good basket (i.e. institution).
But as Shawn pointed out, institutions consist of people.
An institution is only as good as the people who helm it. Even in the best of system, if the people who run the system are bad, then the results will be bad. This is why PM Lee said that if you have a Prime Minister who is corrupt, then you are sunk. It matters that good people are in charge.
What we need is both strong institutions and good people in charge.
In the end, Singaporeans themselves will choose the political party and the PM to keep our system clean and incorruptible. Since independence, Singaporeans have placed their trust in the PAP. All three PMs have upheld this trust, by ensuring high standards of honesty, integrity and propriety, and insisting on strong institutional safeguards through the elected President