MYT By-Election: Goh’s 1987 Statements About GRCs Contradict Constitution

“No by-election will be held to fill any vacancy unless all three members of that GRC have vacated their seats in Parliament,” then DPM Goh Chok Tong said when he introduced the GRC system in 1987.

“This is to ensure that no Member who has been elected under a GRC will be forced to vacate his seat through the departure of his team-mates for whatever reason”.

Parliament pushed through the stipulation in Section 24(2A) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) that year.

This is what the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will rely on in its case in today’s High Court hearing (starting at 2:30 pm) against an application taken by SDP Assistant Treasurer Dr Wong Souk Yee who is also a resident in the constituency.

Dr Wong’s action seeks a court order to require PM Lee to call for a by-election in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC with the resignation of Ms Halimah Yacob from her seat.

The AG argues, however, that the PEA states that the PM is not mandated to call for a by-election if a seat is vacated in a GRC.

But as explained previously here, Article 49(1) of the Singapore Constitution clearly spells out that “Whenever the seat of a Member, not being a non-constituency Member, has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the vacancy shall be filled by election…” (emphasis added)

The Constitution does not specify that a vacant seat must be in an SMC as opposed to a vacant seat of a GRC before a by-election has to be called.

It is settled law that the Singapore Constitution reigns supreme. That is, if an Act contradicts the Constitution, the latter takes precedence.

To make the point even more explicit, Article 49(2)(b) of the Constitution says that “ The Legislature may by law provide for — (a) the vacating of a seat of a non-constituency Member…(b) the filing of vacancies of the seats of non-constituency Members…” (emphasis added)

Note the difference: the vacancy for an elected MP “shall” be filled by an election. But for a non-elected member (such as an NCMP), the government “may” (ie, not required to) fill the vacated seat.

This distinction makes it clear that the filling of a vacant seat of an elected MP by an election is non-discretionary.

Dr Wong’s application submits that the statements by DPM Goh do not address Article 49(1).

“Therefore, the comments made by DPM Goh in relation to the calling of a by-election in a GRC only when all seats fall vacant cannot be regarded as setting out the meaning of Art 49(1) of the Singapore Constitution when no such amendment to the Art 49(1) of the Singapore Constitution was introduced,” Dr Wong’s submissions read.

It continues, “If the Government had intended the remaining MPs of a GRC to maintain their seats in Parliament in the event that one MP vacates his/her seat, the Government should have amended Art 49 of the Singapore Constitution to expressly provide for this situation.”

The AG’s counter to this point is that Article 49(1) was established at a time when there were no GRCs and is, therefore, not applicable to the present system. In other words, it is understood that the Article must be brought up to date.

To this point, Dr Wong’s counsel, Peter Low and Choo LLC, argues out that the Courts “should not engage in constitutional interpretation in a manner that is tantamount to amending the Constitution.” The Judiciary does not have the power to redraft the Constitution.

Should the Courts adopt the AG’s position, it would be altering and qualifying the plain meaning of Article 49(1) through “constitutional interpretation”.

DPM Goh’s parliamentary statements are clearly in contradiction to the plain reading of Article 49(1). They must, therefore, be disregarded and a by-election in the MYT GRC called.

 

Singapore Democratic Party

 

 

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30 Responses to “MYT By-Election: Goh’s 1987 Statements About GRCs Contradict Constitution”

  • N Chan:

    Dear SDP,

    Thanks for your efforts in this fight.

    But I would suggest a stronger argument. Halimah Yacob is the sole MP in MYT GRC from the minority race. The other 3 MPs are Chinese. As such the PM is constitutionally bound to call for a by-election as there is no MP from a minority racial group in MYT. This is a sureproof argument that will force the courts/PM to call for a by-election.

    Best of luck!

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  • opposition dude:

    PAP is running scared and trying to drag the issue into the next GE.

    And I thought PAP liked bragging and boasting. So much difficulty in calling for a BE, so scared to death that CB mouth Khaw would get kicked out by his GRC voters.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    They can argue, debate and explain, the final verdict will be same as Dr. Tan’s case on the counting of the Reserved President. The court will pass the decision back to Parliament. The art of tai chi!!!

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  • MarBowling:

    Sometimes viewers need to have enough patience when listening to ex-seatwarmer cum 2nd Pee-M Woody making speech. There seem to be something(maybe it’s a zi ki Tua lah)stuck inside his throat making him having difficulty in speaking clearly and properly. HoLee shit. Anyway, this JLB Bugger is NOT a quick-thinker. Listen to how he gave the answer to WP Mr LTK: He isn’t my brother! Dr Chee or the Late JBJ could easily put this Bugger inside their pocket! Should highlight One fiacking blunder made by this MF Bugger when he was a candidate in a GE: with his entourage accompanying him, he walked INSIDE a Polling station(which fall within 200m)looking up and down, pointing his Finger here and there. Eventually, CJ Chan SK had a hard time managing to clear the shits for this useless JLB seatwarmer Bugger. He isn’t Heavy, he is my brother, folk!

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  • Wonderfools:

    Which goondo party set one law that contradict another law?

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  • Samuel S:

    Give up…we rest our case.

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  • Tell me more, I'm Blackmore:

    The most recent law shall supersede the outdated law, yes or no?

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  • 陈大婶:

    阿龙是皇上!大!

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  • Lucy wang:

    Ag’s role is very Clear! It should follow the wishes of the Constitution!

    It is not its role to interpret, amend or alter the constitution! Simple!

    Ag should not 2nd guess the constitution!

    It should also not check its rear view mirror but look ahead! The constitution is also for him!

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  • GANESH KRISHNA:

    This what happens when you don’t have independent election commission. When it is under the PM ‘ office it can be subject to the interpretations and whim and fancies of the PM and his cohorts.

    Sad.

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    Goh Chok Tong TALKS Shit!!!

    Quitters & Stayers when his daughter is a QUITTER

    Swiss Standard when it remains a dreamlike DREAMER similar to him

    Claims he can earn MORE outside govt. but hangs around as a Parasite to leec

    Won’t SUE if his brother is an ArseHole but will sue if you are Oppo b’cos “he is NOT my brother”

    Now!!! is that NOT a ShitHead who talks SHIT???

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  • I Know:

    Walter Woon, 1992: “We effectively don’t have a Constitution. We have a law that can be easily changed by Parliament, and by the party in power because the party is Parliament. The changes themselves might not be controversial, but it is unsettling how flexible the Constitution is, unlike, say, in the United States.”

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  • Parliament Has the Final Say!:

    Any law that don’t favor the Whites can be amended in Parliament anytime!

    If Singaporeans want to change the law, the only way is to change the ‘lawmakers’ in Parliament!

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  • 鸟龙的人:

    哎哟!叫"蛤李魔"当总桶又兼MYT的议员
    这样兼2聀又可拿2份薪水又不用補选咯
    这方式禽兽党会很喜欢的
    小胆怕输又雜种

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  • Duntell me how2run my cuntri:

    If they can un-explain,under-explain,over-explain,re-explain wat more cannot

    be explained ? Tis is a piece of cake vis-a-vis EP. Ahloong is nt mandated to

    call for a BE, in fact he is nt mandated to do anything except being an

    innocent bystander.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Lucy Wang

    EXACTLY RIGHT, the AG is a PUBLIC SERVANT, not the Emperor or Empress farting on the imperial throne cutting the heads of peasants who dare to disagree.

    His or her salary is PAID OUT OF OUR TAX and his statutory responsibility and loyalty is to LAW COMPLIANCE, not re-inventing the law to his/her preferred advantage or political convenience.

    If the ADG wants to change the law via common law (precedent) applications, he/she should find a job on the judiciary bench, make case law decision and be ready to defend that law in the courtroom for the whole world to see of justice and equality loudly touted in our national pledge.

    The world is the witness of truth and fairness of law writing, enactment and application later in the courtroom decision/s.

    SEE HOW EASY OF WON OUTCOME against a teenager Amos Yee in familiar terrain after a short stoush of challenges from this kid but found to their own disbelief that Amos Yee won 2 – 0 in Chicago where he was on the witness stand taking all scrutiny of robust cross-examination of all evidence from the brightest legal minds money can pay for by the immigration authorities of the Trump Administration

    Lucy wang: Ag’s role is very Clear! It should follow the wishes of the Constitution!

    It is not its role to interpret, amend or alter the constitution! Simple!

    Ag should not 2nd guess the constitution!

    It should also not check its rear view mirror but look ahead! The constitution is also for him!

    THE ENTIRE LAW ARCHITECTURE IN LEE-jiapore is flawed. The AG should NOT be the architect, the govt law adviser and also the prosecution because it is open to abuse of writing one-sided law or POLITICISED LAW that will crumble like corn flour on a table top blown by a passing wind in any foreign legal jurisdiction.

    One cannot help notice that every round in historical experience of legal stoush between a native peasant and the Executive in foreign jurisdictions from UK, Canada and USA, the outcome is almost predictable of who will win.

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  • wayang spirit or intention:

    //Any law that don’t favor the Whites can be amended in Parliament anytime!//

    like some forsaken “democracies”, once elected, the leaders change the law and turn the country into a personal ‘kingdom’ – from two terms to three terms to four terms to unlimited terms or some newly formed legislated body appointed by the leader overriding parliamentary power, etc. that’s why the white idiots even more scarier than so many oppo members that the white idiots try to “tarnish”.

    just because it is the law does not mean it is the right law. the spirit (of the wayang spirit or intention of it) is more important.

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  • Trust only myself:

    Lau Goh’s interpretation more relevant than Constitution?
    Why…….? Lau Goh T…Ki..?

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  • bjork:

    just sack all of them.

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  • How to win elections:

    Singaporeans, especially the elderly cohort, do not subscribe to democracy.
    This is one of the main reasons why the ruling party dominated. Peasants prefer the iron fisting as they do not understand that democracy is a work-in-progress and thats why no country has a perfect democracy yet.

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  • Change We Must:

    Seems like the judge is saying PAP government is bigger than the Singapore Constitution.

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  • Sure Lose:

    PAP is afraid that they will be kicked out for denying Singaporeans the right to vote for their own President.

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  • LIONS:

    LAU GOH WANTS THEIR DURIANS pow chiak?!
    WANT TO HAVE A pap ELECTED PRESIDENT BUT CANNOT LOSE GRC?

    WHY SO SCARED AH?

    TOT PAP PPL PRIDE THEMSELVES AS THE MOST MERITOCRATIC?

    WHAT HAPPENS?

    like ppl say,BO LIAO,TALK BIG BIG?

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  • Incosistencies and plpism:

    Inconsistencies invariably appear when plpism prevails. This is a consistent statement. Those which (Who is Inconsistent) succumb to brownose, bootlick, polanpa are those which have no human values eg integtiy, responsibility, honesty, open attitude to stand up and oppose to what lp wants to do for personal/pack’s benefits and do what they were ordered to do with no second thought except making lp siok and happy and rewards point accumulation. Plpism exterminates professionalism, human values and patroitism but are good at wayanging building dark shelters to creep in and virtually termites silently chewing away the foundation till it collapse and calling in pest control is way too late to save the structure and a rebuild becomes essential. This is why checks and balances are essential and the indelible truth in politics that Power corrupts and ABSOLUTE power corrupts ABSOLUTELY. Power corrupts is a conclusive pcychological evidence of “human” a will increase proportionally as the power increases. How can a predominant human weakness Greed which leads to corruption, an activity of the dark provide its own checks and balances which lky proclaimed he is capable to do do. But at least he is wise enough to realize he is inconsistent in the well proven truth of human nature that he later introduced nmp nmcps. A self admission but not sufficient courage and/or intelligence that these lame ducks have no bites to provide C&B to greed which is only possible with a strong opposition. This lack leads to the various issues the island is facing today and t the opacity deepened. The situation is like a termite effect on the foundation. If this continues an ultimate collapse is inevitable. This is a national calamity which is the responsibility of the citizenry but also the power there be to lift its dark screen and accept no nonsense extermination program as would be carried out by pest control in termite eradication process. Patroitism not selg glorification will ensure a future for other and itself.
    Fear of adverse criticism leading to supressive measures implies something is wrong and a sign of survival needing to greater opacity.

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  • Radio 'Karat'......:

    Three Ministers will be replaced after the next GE!

    There will be a new PM and two DPMs.

    New PM (at most 2 terms) may not be from one of the three shortlisted!

    PM Lee and the two DPMs (current) will become Senior Ministers.

    Woody Goh will be retired.

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  • asd:

    using people’s $ to put up banner to say happy new year or whatever to the people who paid for it .. . like sending ownself a greeting card like that .. what logic this country base is on . ..
    senile nation .. correct me if i am wrong . ..

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  • Not even fit as rotten idiot:

    Goh Chok Tong u think u r fit to remain in the cabinet and Parliament? u have betrayed those who supported u in the national referendum to seek the trust of the people to be a PM when lky publicly said he wanted the academic failure and ocbc rock pulveriser instead of your chines educated partnercand you team. U have also betrayed President Ong for rallying the support of chinese ed Papist mps. Now u showed your real work ethos and responsibility as ESM forvnot attending the scheduled and rare Parliament session.

    Y u have abused people mandate to benefit yourself and party instead of working for the people. The empty parliament will be the historical record of your disrespect to the Constitution and its defined Parliament. To succumb to be a seat warmer for such imbercile will remain an indelible stink and stain on your political career.

    U could be a stopper to nepotism and plpism both are anti constitutional and be a truly courageous and respectable leader but you choose the easier way by betrayer. Many of your successful class and school mates are not with you for good reasons for they cannot self destroy their human values to stoop to plp for a quick and perhaps life of wealthand be despised and spat on by the future generation. They have chosen to build their life thru hardwork with great pride in their profession.The sense of being a hono sapien is still much alive. Yes the world is full of greedy, hungry and aggressive worms leading to many inhuman leaders and axxxholes but the cycle is continuing and will stop when professionals begin to believe they are human and better than the wild beast.

    GCT u have abused your chance to be a real politician and a stateman and chose to be a despicable plp, brownoser and bootlicker. Itbis u that Rafflesians are derogated to rotten idiot together with your other fakes. A man awakened to his weakness and errors is salvable but one persists is not only demean himself to 猪犳不如 is really pathetic. The chice is now.

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  • 陈大婶:

    Lau Goh ! It’s your privaledege to see things . 後面不用說。國家資源豐富。SHUT UP and 拿你工錢。

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  • 陈大婶:

    Lau Goh ! 你是說姜是老的辣?還等什么?解放軍在等這你,發號施令 !

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  • Dinners are just dinners:

    N Chan:
    Dear SDP,

    Thanks for your efforts in this fight.

    But I would suggest a stronger argument. Halimah Yacob is the sole MP in MYT GRC from the minority race. The other 3 MPs are Chinese. As such the PM is constitutionally bound to call for a by-election as there is no MP from a minority racial group in MYT. This is a sureproof argument that will force the courts/PM to call for a by-election.

    Best of luck!

    Better call for by-election soon if it is so important to have sufficient minority representation in Parliament, now that Halimah is not there. If not important to have minority representation, then why even have GRCs in the first place? Might as well overhaul the whole GRC system and go back to all-SMCs.

    Also, why is it important to have Malay and Indian minority representation, but not important to have Eurasian minority representation? And how about disabled people minority representation? Full of contradictions. Might as well either go back to the all-SMCs system or go for GRCs or MMCs with some fairer voting system like NZ that allows smaller parties a fighting chance instead of winner takes all first-past-the-post.

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