Spirit of Parliamentary Elections Must be Respected

In his judgement rendered today, High Court Judge Chua Lee Ming said that a by-election cannot be held unless the remaining MPs in the GRC vacate their seats.

During the hearing on 22 January 2018, Justice Chua asked repeatedly of counsel Mr Peter Low where Article 49(1) of the Singapore Constitution says that the remaining MPs in a GRC must resign to trigger a by-election if one of the seats is vacated.

The Article, of course, makes no mention of this point. That’s because it was written way before the introduction of the GRC system in 1987.

But Article 49(1) lays the foundation – as is the function of the Constitution – for the democratic construction and functioning of society and its politics.

It makes no bones about where the argument lies when a seat of an elected MP is vacated, that is, “the vacancy shall be filled by election”. Not “may” or “if” but “shall”. In other words, the government is bound by this Article to call for a by-election.

In making the case for the GRC system in 1987, the PAP argued that it is unfair to the remaining MPs if they are forced to step down when a member in the team resigns.

This should not be the Courts’ concern. What is of concern is that Parliament must ensure that the laws it passes are consistent with the Constitution – in this case, the spirit of parliamentary elections of replacing an elected representative with another elected representative as spelt out in Article 49(1) must be respected.

Mr Low maintained that the Article cannot be stretched by the Courts to ask what should happen to the other MPs in a GRC should a seat in the constituency be vacated. Article 49(1) is contravened if the government is allowed to avoid calling for a by-election when an MP vacates his/her seat.

It also sets a dangerous precedent: It is entirely conceivable for the prime minister to sack MPs in a GRC save for one and not replace those whom he has dismissed.

In the extreme, he can still convene Parliament and run the country with 29 MPs (16 GRC MPs plus 13 SMC MPs) instead of the full 89. This makes a complete mockery of the Westminster parliamentary model on which our system is based.

There is another question. The GRC was specifically enacted to require a minority MP in the team. Ms Halimah Yacob was that MP in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. Her departure left a conspicuous absence of minority representation in the constituency.

Yet, Deputy AG Hri Kumar argued that the GRC scheme was “designed to ensure minority representation at the point of elections”. Does he mean that minority representation after elections need not be ensured? This makes absolutely no sense.

In questioning what happens to the remaining MPs at the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Justice Lee failed to ask the more important one: What happens to the gaping hole in the GRC – and by extension in Parliament – left by Ms Halimah when she vacated her seat?

The SDP will consider appealing the decision.

Singapore Democrats

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27 Responses to “Spirit of Parliamentary Elections Must be Respected”

  • N.Jungne:

    What about having a 89 member GRCs?

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  • Titiana Ann Xavier:

    The GRC system was created to undermine Parliamentary democracy. The cowardly PAP government does not dare to indulge in single combat. Now the marsupials refused to allow a by-election in M-YT GRC as there is a possibility of the SDP slaying 4 PAP frightened chickens in one strike. Just like the PM using Parliament to protect his ass, the others use similar tactics to protect their rice-bowls.

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  • Samuel S:

    Now I understand why MPs do not attend parliament sessions as there is no laws that said that they must be present. And the duputy AG argument just shows how hopeless he is.

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  • opposition dude:

    The more important fact that the High Court conveniently forgot is the following.

    Who voted for Halimah’s replacement? No one.

    So since no one voted for the replacement then who is to say that PAP cannot any old how suka suka replace a minister or MP in a GRC should the bugger die whilst in office, get arrested for a crime etc?

    After all, that GRC had a specific number of monkeys. If you can simply substitute one monkey for a donkey then you surely have made a mockery of voting.

    Because since the donkey is good enough to replace the monkey who is to say that elections won’t be called in future because the donkey is doing a fantastic job tio bo?

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  • Bapak:

    Head they win, tail we lost.

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  • LIONS:

    Spirit of Parliamentary Elections Must be Respected.
    ============================================================================
    agreed.

    since not respected,it is just a FAKE PARLIAMENT????

    PS: WHERE IS THE SELECT CONmittee on FAKE PRACTICES??

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  • Wth!:

    Ownself interpret the law suka suka….as always, to their advantage only.
    Everyone else have to abide by the rule of law except them.
    What kind of country are we living in anymore.
    Like those fugged up 3rd world corrupted governments..

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  • What say mdm president:

    …and what does President of the Republic of SG say re this unjust ruling?
    This is akin to breaking the law, isnt it?
    Suka suka make up laws n suka suka break the laws in a blink of an eye. Walau!

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  • J*dge also have family to feed:

    Even the j*dge cheats:

    Under a PAP rule of law, even the j*dge cheats in favor of the pappies.

    J*dges also have a family to feed lah.

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  • that only applied to the PAP:

    This ruling sounds very much like that of another ruling by a j*dge also fearful for his rice bowl who ruled that the three Ministers concerned did not violate the law because being inside the polling station is not the same as being within a 200m radius of the polling station.

    Of course, he did not say that that only applied to the PAP candidates but not the Oppositions.

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  • arbitrary and bizarre:

    That is also like the arbitrary ruling that said that a certain Presidential Election will be reserved for only a Malay candidate when a certain non-Malay candidate was expected to win the election.

    And when it was subsequently discovered that the ‘Malay’ candidate earmarked by the PAP had on her IC stating that she is Indian, they then turned round and said never mind. Under PAP rule of law, nobody can do anything.

    While two other non-PAP Malay candidates were disqualified for some other arbitrary grounds.

    Making it a walkover for the PAP.

    Like those erstwhile walkovers of past GE’s in which the Oppositions, already weakened and virtually decimated by the PAP, were unable to overcome those insurmountable arbitrary and bizarre GRC hurdles set up by the PAP.

    All hallmarks of cheating.

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  • fate of judge:

    that only applied to the PAP:
    This ruling sounds very much like that of another ruling by a j*dge also fearful for his rice bowl who ruled that the three Ministers concerned did not violate the law because being inside the polling station is not the same as being within a 200m radius of the polling station.

    Of course, he did not say that that only applied to the PAP candidates but not the Oppositions.

    What happened to the fate of the judge who ruled in favor of JBJ?

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  • MarBowling:

    Wonder whether the Hide Court Judge is aware that Heaven and the Barn Owl are watching his Sneaky Judgement!

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  • Bapak:

    Do you really believe she has a say as per constitution?
    Do you really believe this do-good-together will open her mouth for vacating her post and get to be paid million for whom? She is busy counting her millions and laughing all the way to the bankss. DND is pasted on her office door.

    The moment she opens her do-good-together mouth against, she will be out for not cooking mee siam mai hum in Istana. There are many reasons to remove anyone if they want, including judges, military generals, police commissioners, lawyers, historians, teachers, lecturers…..even their own mps. They got blank cheques in hands, remember?

    What say mdm president:
    …and what does President of the Republic of SG say re this unjust ruling?
    This is akin to breaking the law, isnt it?
    Suka suka make up laws n suka suka break the laws in a blink of an eye. Walau!

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  • No one left!:

    The cards are stacked against ALL Opposition and by extension AllSinkies?

    If the 69.9% don’t realize this simple, minute nuance (as in His Story) , it will be better to commit harakiri!

    The 69.9% are doing a great disservice to the nation, their children, and grand children! Soon there will be no one left?

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  • wild, wild East of lawlessness:

    arbitrary and bizarre:

    That is also like the arbitrary ruling that said that a certain Presidential Election will be reserved for only a Malay candidate when a certain non-Malay candidate was expected to win the election.

    You omitted saying that the mentioned 2016 PE was not originally supposed to be the designated Presidential Election according to the arbitrary rules they themselves created. Which would mean the overwhelmingly popular candidate from the opposition camp would qualify to stand and be expected to go on to win that PE.

    So how, now? No problem. It is never a problem.

    They then decided to call up their kakis (ricebowls at stake) under another sham commission set up by themselves to fix that (unanticipated) incongruity.

    So a historical event in which a past President was a Nominated President, became an Elected President, by coming up with another absurd and infantile and senseless assertion.

    Except for the Oppositions and a few critics yelling foul till hoarse under the cloak of cyberspace anonymity, academics and intellectuals and legal minds (perhaps also mindful of their ricebowls) remained largely reticent.

    So the fourth PE became the fifth PE.

    And all opposition candidates became disqualified, again for spurious and silly reasons.

    Allowing only an Indian candidate to remain, and to become a President reserved only for a Malay. Not just any Indian though. It had to be a PAP Indian only. And certainly not a citizens’ President (it had to be a walkover for otherwise she would not likely be elected).

    In PAP Singapore, even the Constitution is not sacrosanct. It can suka-suka be tampered with or arbitrarily changed by a certain tyrannical group of people with an entitlement mentality proclaiming themselves to be the natural aristocrats of Singapore.

    Welcome to the wild, wild East of the PAP rule of law(lessness).

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  • Ah Peng Kia:

    J*dge also have family to feed: J*dges also have a family to feed lah.

    More specifically, judges want to continue feeding family Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (super expensive dish, for those who don’t know).

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    a case of quarrelling with your wife and bringing the matter to your Mother-in-law to ARBITRATE…”Evil M-I-L similar to the Evil Bastard”

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  • Taleban:

    There is no provision for the remaining MPs to vacate their seats but they should do the honorable way. they should all resign and call for a by-election.
    Like in football. When a player falls to the ground seriously injured, the other players send the ball out of play to allow the referee to attend to the injured player and only after the injured player is taken care off will they resume the game.
    Similarly, the MPs in the GRC should resign and a by-election call for.

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  • Team work:

    During election, the people were told that a team with a minority race must work together to serve you. If a team without a minority race believed that they are still qualified to serve you, do these people feel that the basic promise is missing and can this team can be trusted?

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  • NotMyProblem:

    MarBowling:
    Wonder whether the Hide Court Judge is aware that Heaven and the Barn Owl are watching his Sneaky Judgement!

    Sorry, these people don’t believe in this. They pray to $$$ god.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Team work:
    During election, the people were told that a team with a minority race must work together to serve you. If a team without a minority race believed that they are still qualified to serve you, do these people feel that the basic promise is missing and can this team can be trusted?

    Now they bring in a Fake MP to serve the residents.

    Anyone, have any of the minority MPs spoken for the minority???!!!

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  • Can't trust PAP:

    What if for whatever reasons, many minority MPs in each GRC resign? Will the PM call for by elections if these minority MPs are from the Opposition? if they are from the ruling party? If the number of such GRCs affected are a majority, will the PM dissolve parliament to have a GE?
    The constitution must be clear, transparent and fair to all, not to be changed or interpreted at whim by the ruling party.
    If PAP through the so called Malay Committee can classify an Indian-Malay as a Malay, will an Indian Committee classify a Sikh or a Indian-Malay or Indian-Chinese as Indian to be eligible to stand for EP election?
    Who sanctions these Malay and Indian Committees? I am very sure the members of these Committees will toe the line of PAP.

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  • LIONS:

    you cannot trust the PAP but you can THRUST ITS PAPiie$ out of parliament?

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    Another issue may be pertinent. The Judgement depends, arguably crucially, on the contention that “the Tea” remains to serve constituents after the departure of Halimah. But how is “Team” defined? Isn’t a team made up by its essential constituents, so that you don’t have the team any longer with one or more removed? An extreme case is the one SDP painted, where only one GRC MP is left. Can we imagine any Judge pronouncing that the team remains? Then why should the departure of one or two make any difference in principle and legally? Let’s take a doubles match at, say badminton. One of a team of two falls ill. The remaining player proceeds to play, for his team still exists with him remaining? The judge might have been thinking of football instead, where the game goes on even with one or two teammates sent off. But, don’t forget, it’s penalty that causes one side to play with less than a football team. Substitutes? But these have to be supplied by reserves who are part of the larger team behind the team actually playing. Do GRC teams have reserves? Can you just conveniently pick anyone to substitute, and are there GRC rules allowing for it? The issue is the more acute where the missing MP is from a minority race – the very race GRC is purportedly devised to ensure representation. And don’t make us laugh, saying with Kumar that this representation is only at the point of election, after which the actual representation is no longer important, ie. it’s only symbolic, only for show (wayang, as many writers here are wont to say!).

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  • NotMyProblem:

    … “designed to ensure minority representation at the point of elections”.

    If this is the case, it is amounting to cheating!!

    Residents voted for that particular person or the team of persons, later one of them left or disappeared. Isn’t that cheating?

    Like when you bought 4 apples at the point of payment, after payment one apple was removed, with the excuse that the 4 apples were equal to 3 apples or the apple was replaced with a grape. And nobody knew anything about this grape.

    Isn’t this call “CHEATING”?

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  • Change We Must:

    The purpose of the GRC is for minority representation in the team and now the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC has no minority representation. Is it very unfair for the minority in that ward? Minority in that ward, you decide what you have to do next.

    Worst, to avoid the by-election ,Deputy AG Hri Kumar argued that the GRC scheme was “designed to ensure minority representation at the point of elections”. What a dishonest guy!

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