Workers' Party to raise reserved presidential election in Parliament

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

The Workers’ Party has filed an adjournment motion on the upcoming reserved Presidential Election (PE) for the next sitting of Parliament on 11 September.

In a Facebook post titled “Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong – policy decision or legal question?” on Monday (28 August), the opposition party said that Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim had filed an adjournment motion with the above title.

“In the wake of intense public discussion after the parliamentary debates and a court case on the reserved presidential election, the Workers’ Party believes it is in the public interest for the Government to clarify this issue surrounding the election of our Head of State,” the post added.

Last Wednesday, former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock’s appeal against a High Court ruling on his constitutional challenge to the timing of the reserved PE was dismissed by the Apex Court. Tan had argued that the term count that triggered the reserved election was flawed, as it started from President Wee, who was not an elected president

This year’s presidential election is reserved for Malay candidates, following constitutional amendments in 2016 to reserve an election for a particular racial group that has not been represented in the office for five consecutive terms. Tan maintained that the term count should have started from Ong, an argument that was rejected by the courts.

But the Apex Court agreed with the High Court that there is nothing in the text or textual context which limits Parliament’s power by requiring Parliament to start the term count from the term of office of a popularly elected President.

In a Facebook post after his appeal was dismissed, Tan said that his legal challenge was prompted by the government’s response to Sylvia’s Lim query on the same issue.

“When MP Sylvia Lim asked the Government in Parliament why they chose to start the count of 5 presidential terms with President Wee Kim Wee (resulting in 2017 being a reserved election year), the Government challenged her to go to Court for an answer.

“That is wrong and I felt the need to respond. I firmly believe the Government should have answered in Parliament instead of challenging a Parliamentarian to go to Court,” said Tan.

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