Sunday 13 March 2016

The American one is very long (I'm talking about the presidential election)

Why am I feeling so hot? Is it the weather?

Or is it election fever?

With Mr David Ong resigning as Bukit Batok MP yesterday over an alleged affair, a by-election will be called.

On Friday, former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock announced his intention to run again even though the presidential election is not due until August next year.

More than a year out and we’re already talking the presidential election. What is this? America?

Well, if it is, we would be discussing the size of Mr Donald Trump’s penis, you know, since he brought it up during a live TV debate.

Though, to be fair, the US presidential candidate was responding to a jibe from another candidate about his “small hands” and Mr Trump was too classy to actually use the word “penis”, but everyone knew what he was referring to.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), this isn’t America — it’s Singapore.

We have Mr Ong and his stray penis.

We also have Mr Tan and his premature, uh... announcement?

Judging by previous presidential elections, at least there’s little chance of him highlighting the dimensions of any of his body parts during a live TV debate because we don’t have live TV debates.

Some have suggested that the timing of Mr Tan’s announcement to rerun for president may have something to do with the ongoing review of the Elected Presidency system by a Constitutional Commission appointed last month. Nothing like this has happened before.

Of course, in the US, it’s common for presidential campaigns to start as early as two years before the election. Republican Ted Cruz officially announced his candidacy in March last year, 20 months before election day on Nov 8.

One reason for the long US presidential campaign is that it’s a two-parter.

Part one is the primaries, where the two major US political parties — the Republicans and Democrats — decide who will be the presidential nominee to represent the party.

Part two is where the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee go head-to-head for the Commander-in-Chief gig.

To put it in the Singapore context, imagine a parallel universe where Singapore follows the US system and the two major parties are the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP).

Part one could be Ms Sylvia Lim versus Mr Low Thia Khiang for the WP nomination, and Mr Khaw Boon Wan versus Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam for the PAP nomination.

So even though they belong to the same party, Mr Low could be attacking Ms Lim for her Wall Street connections and Mr Khaw could be making fun of Mr Tharman’s small hands.

Let’s say part one ends with WP picking Ms Lim as its nominee and PAP picking Mr Tharman as its nominee despite his small hands.

Part two is where WP and PAP finally duke it out and Ms Lim attacks Mr Tharman for his small hands.

This is also where you and I vote for either her or him to be our next president.

I want to make it clear here that I'm in no way alleging that Mr Tharman has small hands. I’m just trying to explain the US presidential election in terms that Singaporeans can relate to.

Speaking of small hands, Mr Trump is currently the Republican frontrunner. A highly polarising figure, he has been accused of racism and xenophobia for calling Mexicans criminals and rapists as well as other statements.

He has said he will build a “great, great wall on our southern border” to keep the Mexicans out of America and have Mexico pay for it.

The billionaire is so disliked by many that one poll says 19 per cent of Americans would consider moving to Canada if he becomes president.

But Canada isn’t the only option.

In an article called “The complete guide to fleeing President Donald Trump’s America”, the New York Daily News offered a few alternatives. Its first recommendation: Singapore.

Calling Singapore the “most well-rounded country”, the US newspaper said:
“The island nation boasts the top quality of life for expats, according to a 2015 survey of expats by InterNations.

“The Asian country earned the title for its slew of high-paying jobs, welcoming atmosphere, stellar health care facilities and top-notch public transit.”
Wow, the article makes Singapore sounds so good I almost want to move here myself.

So will we have to brace ourselves for an influx of American refugees if Mr Trump turns the White House into Trump House?

Wait, wait.

The article was written before Singapore was named the world’s most expensive city for expats for the third consecutive year in a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

And that’s how you stop foreigners from coming into your country, Mr Trump.

Who needs a wall?

- Published in The New Paper, 13 March 2016