Friday, 18 November 2016

Elected Presidency

From the last PE, there are two issues that the govt needs to address.

First is the public's understanding of the role of the EP. Until the public's understanding is aligned to the actual legal role and responsibilities, any tweaking of the qualifying criteria will be seen as rigging the rules to exclude some candidates.

Educating the public on the role of the EP would be a major campaign, and in the absence of a viable "role model" for an EP, voters will adopt Presidential "models" that they know. Like POTUS.

The second issue is the perceived elitism of the qualifying criteria, or the perceived "racism" of the criteria, or (as mentioned in the first issue) the perceived nepotism - the EP is from a list of "approved" candidates vetted by the ruling party. There is an inherent contradiction is asserting that we want minorities to have a chance to be represented by the EP, while at the same time raising the criteria.

Politically-affiliated criteria like having been a Minister, or Speaker lays the candidates' impartiality open to suspicion. By definition, these posts are conferred onto them by the ruling party.
Appointed posts like the Chief Justice, is not much better in terms of perceived affiliation to the ruling party.

Permanent Secretaries are arguably more defensible as impartial, but here is the interesting thing: there are no minorities among the ranks of current Perm Secs.

The fundamental premise of Democracy is that the will of the people should carry the day. And the assumption is that while individuals' opinions may differ, the majority's opinion is valid, if not correct.

I would suggest the issue of the criteria for candidacy of the EP is a secondary issue. The larger problem is the people's understanding of the role and responsibility of the EP. The greatest hindrance to democracy is a lack of understanding. That is the lesson of Brexit. And the lesson of recently concluded US Presidential Election.

As such, I would suggest NOT amending or updating the qualifying criteria, which would be seen by the conspiracy theorists as the ruling party trying to exclude those not "approved" by the ruling party. 
Clarify the roles and responsibilities of the EP until most people get it, and can easily debunk any conspiracy theorist's fantasy about the EP being a second power centre.

At the same time, announce that after due consideration, it was decided that the qualifying criteria will not be "updated" because the criteria are a guideline, a "minimum standard", and in a democracy, the will of the people is paramount, and the people should be trusted to elect the best candidate with minimal "guidance".

But... never mind.

As usual, I thought about this too long and the decision has already been made.

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