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Singapore Elects New President

Dr Tony Tan was elected Singapore's seventh president on August 27 but his winning margin was only 7,269 votes. He only garnered 35.19 percent of total votes but this was enough to beat the three other candidates in Singapore’s first presidential election in 18 years.

Dr Tan was endorsed by no less than Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The Prime Minister issued this statement after the results were announced:

It is good that Singaporeans have had the chance to vote for their next President, and to focus on what the elected President is about. I thank the four candidates for putting themselves forward.

Voters faced a difficult choice between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. This explains why the winning margin is so narrow, and why the winner only gained slightly more than one-third of the total votes. Nevertheless, under our first-past-the-post system, the election has produced an unambiguous winner, who has the mandate to be the next President

The #sgpresident hashtag dominated the Singapore twitterverse. Here are some reactions and suggestions to the new president:

@patrickpang: I hope @dr_tonytan will continue to tweet… Then he will be our first Singapore president to tweet.

@inchchua: Feeling real lousy today with the results of #sgpresident elections. Proving once again that the head is more important than the heart.

@sgelectorate: Overheard : SGreans just voted in another Minister Mentor; one that's v.good with motherhood statements

@BB_See: Well Singapore, I didn't think I'd say this but as of today you have 5 years to repent.

@iamleonwei: spoiling votes is disrespecting the country democracy so 37,000 voters don't deserve to be here.

The tweet above refers to the spoiled ballots which were not counted. Meanwhile, the narrow margin of Tony Tan, who was endorsed by the Prime Minister, could be interpreted as another indicator of the declining popularity of the ruling coalition

@mrbrown: If Tan Cheng Bock wins, PAP loses. If Tony Tan wins, with this score, PAP also loses. (author’s note: PAP is Singapore’s ruling party)

Below is a youtube video uploaded by The Online Citizen of Dr Tan delivering his victory speech

Thoughts of a Cynical Investor believes the results reflect the ‘unhappiness’ of Singapore voters over the country’s leadership

PM better wake up his his ideas. The majority of S;poreans are unhappy about the

– unjustified commuter fare rise;

– repeated failures to secure MRT (author’s note: train service) carriages and depots;

– attempts to tell us how we should vote on 27 August;

- Central Mediation Centre’s and MinLaw’s refusal to tell FTs that they are guests here, not our overlords, and must tolerate our culture and eating habits;

The Gigamole Diaries reminds the president about his role of uniting the country:

The elected President must realize that notwithstanding the electioneering and promises made in the heat of the moment, the Presidency is a position that must chiefly unify and inspire. He must try and embody all the noble values that will bring us together as a united citizenry.

But the president, the blogger continued, should not attempt to be an authority over the morals of the people

When we elect the President, we willingly confer upon him the moral authority to assume the highest position in our land, but this does not make him eligible to be the authority for our morals.

AKIKONOMU explains why the presidency is largely a ceremonial position:

The President is guardian of nothing

Once the elected president was the guardian of the reserves of Singapore. Then the constitution was changed so that the president is the guardian of only the current reserves. In one fell swoop, the government negated the meaning of the presidency – though the citizens of Singapore and even the candidates for its 4th election/selection seem unaware.

The political landscape has changed, according to Yee Jenn Jong:

I am excited in this PE and watching the outcome because Singapore has reached a new political landscape. It is hard to imagine going back to the muted elections we had in the past. If we cannot move backwards, the only reasonable thing going forward is to define a new political playing field where we will progress together for the common good of Singapore. People want to hear alternative voices. For there to be alternative voices, there must be enough good people stepping forward to fill the roles. It is happening now.

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