Tag Archive | "powers"

The presidency is symbolic

The presidency is symbolic

Tags: , , ,

SR Nathan insists in his memoirs that the president should “stand apart from the executive”.

In his just published memoirs, SR Nathan stressed that the president is not a “mere courtier”.

(Editor’s note: A “courtier”, according to Google definition, means “a person who fawns and flatters in order to gain favour or advantage”.)

For example, Nathan noted in his book that one of his duties was to give a speech at the opening of Parliament. The speech is delivered on behalf of the Government and it is not written by the President.

Nathan said: “At the reception that takes place after the delivery of the speech I sometimes found it necessary, in response to congratulations, to stress that I did not write the speech myself.”

So if there was anything in the speech that sings praises of the government, it is the government that is blowing its own trumpet.

So how shall the public view the role of the president?

Instead, the role of the president is a “symbolic” one as the Head of State and not the head of Government, Nathan insists.

This is a stance the people within the establishment have been banging on ever since the contest for the presidency kicked off more than a month ago.

Nathan also stressed that the president’s role is to “stand apart from the executive and be above political parties”.

“He must be free to think in terms of the nation as a whole and have the right to exercise his discretion; but he must not trespass on the prerogative of the executive arm of government,” Nathan wrote.

This article is a 60-second reduction of the original published in Today on Sept. 20

Oh, so is Nathan right?

Nope, to find out why Nathan is dead wrong, click here for a 60-second reduction of a scathing rebuttal to another piece that harps on the same issue published in The Straits Times, our favourite broadsheet, on Sept. 10.