SINGAPORE – Dressed mostly in black, hundreds of people on Saturday (Sept 16) mounted a silent protest at Hong Lim Park against the reserved presidential election.
The protest was organised by Mr Gilbert Goh, who was clad in a black t-shirt with the words #notmypresident on it – a hashtag that some Singaporeans have used protest against not being able to vote.
President Halimah Yacob was elected unopposed on Wednesday, and inaugurated the day after.
Both young and old took part to express their disquiet over this year’s election, carrying placards with the hashtag #notmypresident, and declaring Sept 11, the day the walkover was announced, “the day democracy died”.
White banners were laid out on the grass, with protesters scrawling statements like “Nobody voted for Halimah! She is an appointed president!”
Sales assistant Anthony Lim, 25, told The Straits Times he was at the protest because he felt the reserved election undermined meritocracy.
He added: “I have met Madam Halimah before and like her but I am against the process by which she became president. I feel sorry she has to face so much anger.”
There to “share the frustrations of other Singaporeans at being deprived of voting” was 2011 presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock. He arrived to to raucous applause and cheers, and was promptly thronged by well-wishers.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Dr Tan congratulated Madam Halimah on her victory but said he – like many Singaporeans – was disappointed there was no contest.
Businessmen Salleh Marican, 67, and Farid Khan, 61, were declared ineligible to run for the presidency as their companies fell short of the $500 million shareholder equity threshold spelt out in the Constitution.
“It is not President Halimah as a person that Singaporeans are unhappy about. It is about the way our Government has conducted this whole walkover presidential election,” Dr Tan had written.
Also in the crowd were opposition leaders such as Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss.
Retired deliveryman S Kumar, 68, was there with four of his friends.
“Now the entire election is over – without us getting a chance to make our choice. I want to be here to show that I’m against how the whole thing played out,” he said.
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