This is the exchange in Parliament between Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and MPs, including the Opposition leader and PAP MPs, taken from Channel NewsAsia:
“The concern arises over the way the two-key system operates. It seems the two-key system operates simultaneously at the same time. When the government key says ‘unlock’, the other key unlocks automatically,” said Low Thia Khiang, MP for Hougang.
Mr Tharman said: “This is not a ’wayang’ (show)… The point is: the President, advised by the CPA (Council of Presidential Advisers), makes an independent and careful judgement on the government’s case.”
MP for Tampines GRC, Irene Ng, said: “Can I ask the minister whether the process can be refined and improved further so that in future we can make the process more transparent — that the public knows that the institution of the President is one that is strong, and that it can exercise an independent turn of the key.”
Inderjit Singh, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said: “What’s missing is the process that the President took after he got briefed by the government. If we could get a sense of what they discussed and what process they went through to decide, then this may clear many of these questions.”
But Mr Tharman said: “I’m not sure why it is relevant. At the end of the day, this is a system that is different from Norway and Australia, where as much detail as possible is provided.
“This is a system that relies on trust in the individuals who are in charge, including those appointed to the CPA and the Elected President. Do you trust them? Have they made decisions wisely? Has the government been acting responsibly?”
I am deeply shocked that the Minister would say that our government’s system is one that relies on trust.
How can you have trust without transparency? The two go hand in hand. Particularly so for financial and governance matters. Is the Minister expecting Singaporeans to trust a few handpicked men with hundreds of billions of dollars of our nation’s reserves?
In my opinion, this is the most fundamental weakness in Singapore’s system of governance. Those in leadership expect — or even demand — that we trust them, without them having to demonstrate a commensurate level of transparency. It extends down to the ruling party’s philosophy that a one-party system works best for Singapore, and there is no need for an opposition to keep them accountable.
All men are fallible. Donning a white uniform does not put one above scrutiny.