Here’s why the Judge is Wrong on the M-YT By-Election Matter

The SDP is of the view that High Court Judge Chua Lee Ming is mistaken in his decision to dismiss Dr Wong Souk Yee’s application for a by-election in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC on two counts.

The first is that the Constitution stipulates 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 in the manner provided by or under any law relating to Parliamentary elections for the time being in force.” (emphasis added)

Article 49(1) can’t get any plainer: Whenever the seat of a Member – not all Members – has become vacant, that vacancy shall – not may be – filled by election – not appointment.

The Deputy AG and former PAP MP Hri Kumar argued that the PAP had amended the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) when it introduced the GRC system. In it, parliament decided that no by-election need be called unless all of the MPs in the GRC resigned.

But how do you reconcile the contradiction between the Constitution and PEA? By applying, Mr Hri Kumar insisted, something called “rectifying construction” or “updating construction”.

In layman’s terms, the Court needed to assume that Article 49(1) is automatically updated or rectified when the PAP introduced the GRC concept.

If you find that such an interpretation strains credulity, that’s because it does. The AGC had even admitted that its interpretation “may be strained” but is, nevertheless, “justified because it gives effect to Parliament’s express intent.”

Justice Chua chose to agree with this interpretation. “In my view,” he wrote, “an updating construction should be applied such that references to ‘the seat of a Member’ in Article 49(1) are interpreted to mean ‘the seats of all the Members’ in the case of a GRC.”

Such a view is problematic. If Parliament wanted to overcome the “seat of a Member” stipulation in the Constitution, it should have amended Article 49(1) which would require a 2/3 majority vote in the house. It didn’t.

Parliament cannot simply amend legislation in the PEA and then insist that the new legislation updates or rectifies the Constitution.

Article 4 of the Constitution specifically prohibits such action: “The Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

Clearly, the part in the PEA that says that all MPs in a GRC must resign before a by-election can be called is inconsistent with the Constitution’s Article 49(1) and, as such, must be void.

To interpret that the PEA should update or rectify the Constitution is like saying that the tail should wag the dog.

Then there is the issue of minority representation. The GRC system specifies that each team must have a minority candidate. In the present case, not only did an MP resign, that MP was also the sole minority MP in the MYT GRC.

But Mr Hri Kumar stood logic on its head when he contended that the GRC system was “designed to ensure minority representation at the point of elections”, adding that “GRCs are meant to ensure a multi-racial Parliament, not a multi-racial team in the constituency.

Then why have GRCs at all? If all we are interested in is a multi-racial Parliament and not multi-racial GRC team, then we should abolish the GRC system and revert to the original system of only SMCs but, as a possible alternative, reserve a portion of the constituencies for minority candidates.

But the judge also agreed with the Deputy AG. In his judgement, Mr Chua wrote: “Whether the vacated seat was held by an MP belonging to a minority community or not, a by-election for the whole GRC Team cannot be held unless the remaining MPs can be compelled to vacate their seats.”

Again, if that’s the case, what’s the point of having the GRC system?

For these – and other – reasons, the SDP disagrees with the Court’s verdict. Dr Wong Souk Yee is considering appealing the decision.

Read the judgment here.

 

Singapore Democrats

 

 

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21 Responses to “Here’s why the Judge is Wrong on the M-YT By-Election Matter”

  • patriot of Temesak:

    Why the SILENCE???…Law Society or whatever they call themselves…why the SILENCE???…are you Legal Eagles or are you LEEgal sparrows???

    Spineless…when your country Legal Constitution is being abused???…should add Parasite to spineless!!!

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    “The seat of a MP”, when applied to GRCs, is an entire GRC team, such that only when all MPs in a GRC team resign should there be re-election? Then even if only one MP remains, they would still have their “team”? The judge really wants to say that?

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    There is also the issue, implied all through, as regards MP-Constituents ratio. Surely, there is the general rule, applied with relatively minor variations, as to how many constituents an MP can adequately serve. And GRCs are would-be single MP constituencies, with their more or less proportionate constituents representations, being grouped together and served by a “team” comprising a number of MPs to serve the enlarged constituents in similar MP-Constituents ratio. Then, when a MP in a GRC resigns, that upsets that ratio, which accordingly deprives the constituents unjustly. Substitution with an un-elected person is to act against constituents’ democratic rights, therefore contra Constitution.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    After so many years of PAP’s twists and turns, I am having trouble educating my children. Someone please help!!

    How to tell the difference in “Flooding and Ponding”?

    Is inside 200M radius the same as within 200M?

    Can an Indian becomes a Malay?

    There MUST be minority representation in a GRC, but it is alright without a minority MP?

    Is Member of Parliament elected or appointed?

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  • He Bor-Bian!:

    Don’t tekan the judge!

    He has to carry the judgement with him into his urn.

    If the ‘late father’ can be betrayed, what’s more to be said?

    Wait for next GE and cast your vote diligently, if you are unhappy!

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  • William C:

    What is wrong to have a quite by-election to settle this once and for all. It should be less costly to hold a by-election to have this matter challenged in court.

    It also give the people an impression that PAP is sincere, fair and democratic. Let the people decide by holding a by-election. Why not?

    If you are good, 10 by-elections can still win like Bukit Batok.

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  • why u so surprise?:

    When;

    flood is ponding,
    collision is contact,
    once in 50 years happened every other year,
    Indian can also be Malay,
    collecting cardboard is a form of exercise,
    CPF is not your money,
    paying NSmen more is an insult but a necessity for MPs and Ministers,
    within is not inside,

    anymore anyone?

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  • Bapak:

    If I am the judge, I will intentionally wrong myself to save my job. Knowing too well, this extremely narrowed minded G will fix even the judge whoever judges against them. Let you appeal and let the case pass on to another unlucky judge.

    They are scared – YES or NO?

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  • No end to PAP wayang:

    Twist n turn the law n constitution as and when it suits them ….not for the common good of citizens.
    Everyone can see this is so ridiculous it becomes like a comedy skit.
    Really n truly shitty gov …suka suka change the laws to benefit themselves ..clear as the sin rises in the east..!

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  • No end to PAP wayang:

    No end to PAP wayang:
    Twist n turn the law n constitution as and when it suits them ….not for the common good of citizens.
    Everyone can see this is so ridiculous it becomes like a comedy skit.
    Really n truly shitty gov …suka suka change the laws to benefit themselves ..clear as the sin rises in the east..!

    Error…last line shd be “..clear as the sun rises in the east”.

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  • fate & ricebowl of judges:

    Is the fate and rice bowl of the judges at the mercy of the PAP?

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  • judge who ruled infavor of JBJ:

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

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  • Hammer them the next round:

    The frameworks are all corrupted.
    Shame on you, Justice in Singapore just wash down the drain.
    I am very disappointed with the PAPi garment run by LHLooney/, is like treating the PEOPLE like stupid fool.

    Can no longer trust them blindly. Abuses are plain clear. It dangerous for the power and control to be laying in villain no different hands.

    I will Hammer them the next round.

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  • HarderTruths:

    $G Democrats – you are quoting a meaningless document that has no meaning.
    The only rule of law is the despot in charge. Everyone else works for him.
    His word is law.

    Don;t waste your time – $G majority want it this way.

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  • RuleOfLawMeansNothingInSG:

    This is what LWL & LHY was warning us about.
    its true !

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  • patriot of Temesak:

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

    Michael Khoo…a JUST man as compared to an Evil man who is in private practice today…Had a brother who was hounded by an evil man and had to LEAVE Singapore followed by his wife a Doctor and served the less privileged in Palestine and the Middle East…passed away in London and his faithful & loving wife brought his ashes BACK to his HOME where he will be laid to Rest in eternal Bliss whereas the Evil bast**d who DROVE him away will burn in all ETERNITY!!!

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  • oxygen:

    WHAT WAS THE “LEGISLATIVE INTENT” (the intention of Parliament) when it passed into law the GRC electoral law architecture?

    Was it FAKE showbiz of some kind of public theatre and entertainment? Or was it intended to ensure minority representation in Parliament?

    Did the learned judge overridden Parliamentary authority to pass that relevant law in his decision? That is GRC is now either a DEAD OR FICTITIOUS CONSTRUCT?

    The answers to both questions again MUST BE BINARY

    YES or NO?

    And it cannot be contradictory. Now that is also BINARY

    YES or NO?

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  • Voice of political exile:

    The voice of the most famous political exile and a former prince of the old royal family sound clearer as days pass by and the unconscious revelation broght about by the imberciles and the cast of the national wayang troupe. The implication of compliance, the most adacious pronouncement by two of the royal members of the former dynasty became ckearly understood by the common populace not versed in the complexity of the Queen English much embraced by the First SIN Emperor and the contradictions among the Oxbridgeans.
    No wonder SINners are wondering why the SIN academic achievers, Oxbridgeans have turned oncevfamed academic Insitution into a cesspool of rotten idiots stinking SINland with their nfi farts across the political arena and across the entire Island, once the envy across the seas but with the growing stinks attracting scums from four corners of the globe to be paid to produce more stinks. Pathetic and despicable
    all within less than half a century.

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  • Paid and not in the job:

    ST on its front page today reported that another Royal plp is appointed to lead NTUC and the replaced chaitowkwei Chan is now going back to the government implying that he has not been working or a member of the government until Ng came and stole (May day msg of the boss of the harem of plps which advocate Singaporeans should be more HHA than foreigners to steal the job he has created from them). Since he is not in the government, shouldn’t the relevant independent institution acts what they should do in such cases. Once again the words of the former prince, princess become more appreciated and understood by the populace with theirvdaftness consumed by the fire all within the incineration process.

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  • mostly expensive plp appendage:

    //Why the SILENCE???…Law Society or whatever they call themselves…why the SILENCE???…are you Legal Eagles or are you LEEgal sparrows???//

    alamak. when you have 50+ years of mostly one curry party function plus 151th environment breeding mostly robotic daft sinkies, the result is that all the other institutions are mostly expensive plp appendages of the white gang.

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  • Appeal:

    Appeal pls, we will fund it.

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