After parliament allowed racial discrimination in favour of Malays, a WP supporter came out with this on Facebook. I’m surprised I didn’t see it on Terry’s Online Channel
Posts Tagged ‘Constitutional law’
This is what happens when voters keep on giving the PAP a two-thirds (and counting) majority in Parly: PM said in Parliament on 8 Nov that the government is intending to amend the Presidential Elections Act next January to ensure that the next President would come from a minority race:
“Every citizen, Chinese, Malay, Indian, or some other race, should know that someone of his community can become President, and in fact from time to time, does become President.”
He could say that government is intending to amend the legistation because the governing party has a two-thirds majority.
Today the presidency: tomorrow the age of CPF withdrawal goes up to 75 and then the lease of the pigeon loft in sky is cut to 55 yrs from 99? Yes, yes I know that CPF and HDB leases are not in the constitution, so there’s no need for a two-thirds majority.
My point is that allowing any party the power to suka suka amend the constitution is asking for trouble, serious trouble because with a two-thirds majority (and more) can give the government the confidence that really unpopular and unfair measures can be rammed through because come the next general election, with a GRC system and the PM in charge of the redrawing of electoral boundaries, the damage to the governing party can be contained, if the voters hadn’t been bribed off in the mean time, or if memories are short.
TOC shared this FB KPKBing.
Khan Osman Sulaiman
6 hrs ·
My community raised the issue of discrimination of Malays in RSAF.
My community raised the issue of allowing school children to wear the tudung.
My community raised the issue of allowing Hijabs in uniformed groups.
My community raised the issue of having a ‘halal kitchen’ in the navy ships.
My community raised the issue of having an independent MUIS.
My community raised the issue to legislate some form of discrimination laws.
Having a Malay president isnt the most pressing issue but yeah, it will be ‘given’ as though it’s what we need the most.
We can now celebrate the magnanimous gesture by the Gov.
Seriously, the post explains why the PAP administration had to give the Malays something even if it was only a peanut. Otherwise, they’d think the community was being marginalised.
And here’s another good FB post
I hope, at some point in our alternate universe of democracy, there will be a reserved presidential election for:
– Malay woman
– Chinese single-parent gay man
– Caucasian hot male
He left out the Eurasians. And Schooling won an Olympic gold medal for S’pore.
But then Eurasians don’t riot to misquote BG Yeo who said that of Christians. Anyway too few of them to form a rioting mob. Most left for Perth a long time ago
True here too? Especially the bits about “Power and the state … are one and the same,” and “And any citizens’ participation in politics is not expected.”
Think of waz happening to the post of elected president here? The voters use a presidential election when there is one to cock a snook at the PAP administration. In return, the PAP has drawn up more convoluted fixes (think Nathan) rules, and tied itself in knots or avoiding the issues raised when arguing the case for changes in the qualifications to be a candidate.*
MARINA, a middle-aged Muscovite with dark hair and piercing eyes, is unhappy—about rising prices, rampant corruption and even Russia’s confrontation with the West. But she is not ready for a change of course. “People are unsatisfied, but we’re afraid of change,” she declares. “Gorbachev had some nice ideas, but see how that turned out? I don’t want Russia to be destroyed.” So it comes as no surprise that Marina, and most of her compatriots, voted for more of the same when they took to the polls on September 18th for elections to the Duma, the national parliament.
Many complain of rising prices and falling wages. “You go into the store and your money gets you nothing,” says Marina (who declined to state her last name, quipping, “Tomorrow they’ll burn my car”).
Doesn’t this reflect what many S’poreans in the 70% that voted for the PAP feel?
The new ministry and United Russia’s dominance of the Duma ought to end any illusion that the Russian system could allow resistance from within, argues Oleg Kashin, a prominent columnist. “Power and the state in Russia are one and the same,” he writes. “And any citizens’ participation in politics is not expected.”
Think of waz happening to the post of elected president here?
*U/m quotes from the constructive, nation-building MediaCorp whose website suspiciously looks similar to N Korea’s internet: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37426725
The Minister for Pets said:
The commission highlighted the “tension” between the President’s two roles and suggested that an appointed body of experts could take over the custodial functions, while Parliament could appoint a President to serve as a unifying symbolic figure. But Mr Shanmugam pointed out: “If you look at the commission’s report, the commission recognise that if a person or body is not elected then they cannot really say no and block the Government.”
Among other recommendations, the commission recommended that the President be obliged to consult the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) before exercising his discretion on all fiscal matters. Nevertheless, the Parliament can override the President’s decision, with the level of CPA support making a difference to the Parliament majority needed. Referring to the CPA, Mr Shanmugam reiterated that the commission recognised that “this body of experts, because they are unelected, the best (they) can (do is) only delay (the decision) and Parliament can still override”. He added: “If you want to give real power then they have to be elected as the commission itself recognise”.
In his letter to the commission, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said he appreciated the commission’s reasons for making the suggestion to consider reverting to a President elected by Parliament. But he stressed that “it would be difficult for a President to exercise custodial powers over the reserves and public service appointments, and veto proposals by the Government, without an electoral mandate”.
… also responded to critics who claimed that the EP changes were politically motivated. “All sorts of statements can be made but (I think they should) get back to basics and look at logic,” he said …
He said that people can disagree with the report, including whether elections are needed to choose a President. If there is a need for elections, it would be sensible to put in requirements for the candidates because the President will have to make important decisions that involve huge sums of money, for instance, he noted. “If you agree that there should be qualifications, I think most people will agree (the Government) should also review the criteria, so the debate and discussion will become better if we deal with the specific issues and questions that I have asked,”..,
Ong Yee Kung said:
“In the end, I think whether the president is (considered to be chosen based on merit) and seen to (have done a) good job has to be judged after he has done the job – and not before he is elected.”
Huh? What cock is this?
Queen Jos said
that the President plays a “hugely important role” in being a custodian of the reserves. “He needs to have the financial oversight and decision-making ability, That is the basic criteria he must fulfill,” she said. His ability to command respect still depends on the people’s mandate, she said. She noted the role of former President S R Nathan – who died last month – during the 2008 global financial crisis. Mr Nathan agreed to the Government’s request to draw funds from the reserves to help companies. The decision ultimately helped “save many rice bowls”, she noted. “When it comes to crucial times like this, he has to make a critical decision, and to answer to the people.
What has this to do the changes, Jos never said.
In HK, the Legislative Council (LegCo) is the body that passes and rejects laws, and approves the government’s budget. It’s HK’s parliament.
Some call it “Rubbish Council” (punning on how the words “legislative” and “rubbish” sound similar in Cantonese), arguing the legislators are all talk and no action. BBC Online
Like in S’pore, major constitutional changes, including changes to the voting system, need to be passed by a two-thirds majority in the council (parly here). Pro-Beijing parties always win more seats but the “democrat” lobby always have at least 24 seats so they can veto changes they disagree with. And they’ve used this power repeatedly
In the latest LegCo elections on Sunday, the “democrat” lobby retained its veto power. They now have 30 seats.
Here the PAP can suka suka change the constitution because it has more than two-thirds majority, courtesy of 60- 70% of the voters.
Even if LegCo is Rubbish Council, the “democrat” lobby has a veto on constitutional changes.
Funny Goh Meng Seng and Uncle Redbean don’t praise the Hongkies for being smart enough to ensure that the pro-Beijing parties and China can be thwarted.
FYI, going in for cataract surgery on the right eye later today. After the final post op check-up (left eye) on Monday was offered an op on Tuesday on the right.
I’m sure you’ve seen Alfian Sa’at tots on whether there’s really a need for a Malay president.
In a FB conversation on the piece, someome said: A President is supposed to represent ALL the races. He is supposed to be a UNIFYING figure.
This got a totful response on the presidency in general and the issue that “only minorities need apply” in some years. (Note I’ve reparagraphed rhe piece to make it easier on the eye.)
Sadly IMHO the office of president is NOT a unifying figure in any way shape or form but someone who is respected nonetheless but as figurehead much like we respect royalty (but to a much lesser degree as its a fairly new institution.)
However some presidents are distinguished Singaporeans in their own right before they ascended to the throne so to speak. That figurehead rubberstamp role could have changed if a non PAP or PAP appointed candidate was elected who would not be so biased towards to the ruling party but alas that did not happen yet.
Why can’t a minority head of state improve the lives of minority as any help would be appreciated. It’s not a job role. No one needs to be specifically in Mendaki or CDAC or Sinda to try to do that. Look at how Barack Obama sometimes goes against certain institutions to highlight black issues through his speeches and influence on social media. It’s not his job per say. [This paeagraph doesn’t sound quite right. The second and last sentence should be removed?]
Inclusivity is not just what we are after but more fairness and less racism. Lots of racial profiling and racial biasness and what have you goes on all over the world – Singapore included.
Alfian got this spot on IMHO. And many others have called this bluff long time ago – nothing new in what he said but just awesome that he said out loud.
Singapore should aim higher for colourblindness though it’s hard and we can start but not electing figurehead tokens like a Malay or Indian president just because it would look nice on paper. This brings 2 steps back ..
(Or “Authorities helping Teo prove her point on freedom of speech and she’s upset?”)
New media has given a really one-sided version of what is happening to the dynamic trio of the Indian (Hey everyone at TISG, as it likes to be called, is Indian.), Teo and Roy. While I’m not defending what seems like the tearing the wings of a live insect to bits by the authorities, I’d like to point out some inconvenient facts that new media netizens don,t know or wilfully ignore or suppress.
Did you know that the
Indian Independent TISG posted even after receiving a reminder? Sounds like it wanted to play rough. It’s not the “honest mistake” defence that it has been saying, isit? Surely this garang attitude warrants a more robust push-back from the authorities*? And note that the Indian has just appointed as editor a member of the SPP. Even if Lina Chiam now sounds like a PAPPy, appointing an oppo party member seems to indicate that TISG is looking for a fight. But maybe P (Philemon not Politician) Ravi will resign from the SPP? Or has resigned? Transparency pls TISG.
Or that Teo Soh Lung, a SDP member, put up four posts which are the subject of police investigations. Not one or two but four posts. Sounds like she wanted to say a lot of things on cooling-off day. Waz so important? To be fair to her, she said “that it was my constitutional right to free speech and expression.” Sounds like she was trying to prove a point by her postings? So investigating her is fair, while charging her for breaking the “cooling-off” law will really be doing her a favour. She can go to court to argue her point.
Govmin so kind meh? Ms Teo and Ms Chong even complain about govmin being helpful isit? Why the ladies liddat? Oh forgot they anti-PAP.
And here’s something I didn’t know until I read it.
In the same period, Ngerng posted a “photo campaign” for Chee on his blog, which he claims has more than 6.5 million hits, and 30 Facebook posts. The police can very well view these as deliberate and repeated transgressions, and investigate more thoroughly than before.
The blogger went on They were not minor slips. They were major election campaigns!That’s his opinion but I think the comment is a fair one, if the allegations are true.
I don’t know if the above allegations about Roy’s postings are true but even if Roy posted half the alleged quantity, surely police got good grounds to investigate?
I’ve been trying to find out what Roy and Teo posted that got the authorities upset but am having no luck. All I get is the “noise” that “They are being persecuted.”.
Well if the dynamic trio think that their grandfathers drafted the “cooling-off” law or that they are above the law, they deserve everything they kanna so far, especially the Indian. It said it wants to make money, lots of it. Contrast that commercial motive with Roy simply wanting to remain a public celebrity (like his hero Amos Yee), And Ms Teo wanting to exercise his constitutional right of free speech.
Finally, I find some actions of Ms Teo and friends puzzling and problematic. Ms Teo wrote on FB, After the law enforcement officers left my flat, my friends and I did our best to protect the privacy of my friends. We changed passwords to email accounts, deleted contacts and finally removed my entire Gmail and Yahoo accounts. I lost several thousands of emails and archival materials. I also deleted other applications.
So one delete emails that can be the subject of police investigations? But then she and her buddy Jeannette Chong** (who was with her in the flat) are experienced lawyers, who also happen to be oppo party members.
Related post: The garang ang moh tua kees
*Finally the two TISG interns (both Indians I’ve been told) have met some adults. People linked with TISG, were called up on Monday (31 May), Tuesday (1 June) and Wednesday (2 June), to assist the police with their investigations into the alleged breaches of Cooling Off / Polling Day restrictions.
Readers will know that I’ve grumbled that the Indian’s interns needed adult supervision. Well TISG may soon face the consequences of its interns’ persistent juvenile delinquency. Actually they are adults from NTU School of Journalism. They will benefit from P Ravi’s supervision. if he decides to risk retaining them.
**Here’s a really bitchy, wicked but funny take on her.
[W]hat is the matter with this Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss woman?
Why is she entering the fray everywhere, from trying to abuse the court procedure last week to police investigations this week? Now they are saying the policemen are not carrying cards. As long as the lead officer in charge of the team is carrying the warrant card, it is enough.
Obviously, some of these people are trying to put the police in the bad light and trying to throw people off the real offence. Remember Jeanette is the same person who recently abused the court process to defend a brutal murderer.
He was never elected.
“Tan also argued that in the case of SR Nathan’s Presidency, he had absolutely no moral mandate as he ran uncontested. An exercise of public affirmation was not undertaken either. Tan shared with the audience about a conversation he once had with SR Nathan at the Istana.
SR Nathan: This man (Kevin Tan) says that I wasn’t properly elected.
Prof Kevin: Sir, I never did say that you were not properly elected. I only said that you were not elected”
Don’t sing Majullah Singapura is the suggestion of a reader of this piece of mine when the president takes the salute. juz play Majullah Singapura.
But before reading his reasoning, here’s another great comment by another reader
Remember Pinkie and his meal of MeeSiam MaiHum?
Well, this is Prata’s maihum moment!
Back to why Majullah Singapura should not be sung when the president takes the salute on National Day:
I think all this STUPIDITY coIuld have been avoided if no one has to sing the national anthem when the president make his appearance at all ceremonies and occasions he attends. In fact, it is only appropriate that the anthem be sung at the end of an occasion, such as the NDP, when everyone including the VIPs and VVIPs would rise and sing it. No exception. The band plays the anthem when the president arrives simply because he symbolizes/represents the nation, not because of he (Nathan, Tony Tan or anyone else) the man.
I have NEVER heard the US national anthem, The Stars And Stripes, being sung when the President of the US arrives. Have you? For want of a better way to describe it, a country’s anthem should only be sang either at as part of a group performance, eg. at a concert or on very special occasions, such as at the end of the NDP or when national sportsmen and sportswomen received their medals on the winners’ rostrum in an international meet like the Olympics.
I agree that “God, Save The Queen’ is different. For one, the lyrics clearly referred to the British monarch in person. For those who are unaware, it was ‘God Save The KING’ when QE2 father was on the British throne. It was changed to the now, ‘God Save The Queen’ when QE2 took over from her father, King Geroge the… (you known, the King’s Speech, fella). Whereas, in ‘Majullah Singapura’, there is NO mention of the president, in fact, the lyrics is meant to spur and galvanize, at least in theory, the people and country forward (see English translation below) and compare it with the British anthem below it.
I hope it would shut the mouth up of the PAP acolytes who tried to defend the indefensible egoistic and ignorant blooper made by SN Nathan*. We can see how truly ignorant and arrogant the PAP ba***carrier can become.
Majullah Singapura (English translation):
Come, fellow Singaporeans
Let us progress towards happiness together
May our noble aspiration bring
Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
British National Anthem – God Save the Queen
God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen.
(From the official website of the British Monarchy –
*Steady brudder. I may mock him but I’m inclined to think he was telling a joke. Bit like Income and Rebecca Lim.
US has its Donald Trump, a billionaire with a big ego,
Well we have S R Nathan, a man who in his 12 yrs as president earned S$16m++ for being Jaga in Chief and Chief Baby Ksser. His ego is bigger than that of Trump despite the Donald being richer than he is (and hence by the warped thinking of the PAP more worthy of respect).
In a recent interview [Link] which was published on 31 Jan by ST, former President S R (Sure not Donald Trump?) Nathan repeatedly refused to be drawn into commenting about the various aspects of the Elected Presidency, which the Government wants to review.
But he did say, “So I often get asked why I keep quiet when everybody is singing Majulah Singapura on National Day,” he quipped. “I reply, ‘Yes, they are singing to me. I’m standing there! This is symbolic of the country. I don’t expect to sing to myself!’”
S’poreans have in my view rightly mocked his pretentions and huge ego. Or if they tot he was telling a joke, his bad joke.
Whatever. The office of president is not the British monarch. The British are technically the monarch’s subjects. While the nuts of TRELand may think we are the subjects of Harry’s family and the PAP, no S’porean thinks that we are the subjects of the president: except perhaps Nathan?
When a lawyer who I’m told is a card carrying member of the PAP (anyway I know he believes in hanging, not helping the elderly poor, or sick: his taxes should go to ministerial salaries) wrote the u/m, you know even the PAPpies cannot really justify Nathan Trupm the Donald.
Many mock President Nathan for saying that people are singing the national anthem to him at the National Day Parade fail to grasp the sequence of events:
a. Parade commander calls parade to attention
b. President arrives and is led to dais
c. Parade commander calls parade to salute president by presenting arms
d. National anthem is played as part of the salute
e. Parade commander calls parade back to attention from present arms position
Since the national anthem is played as part of the salute to the President, it is not incorrect* to say that the national anthem is being sung to him IN THE CONTEXT OF NATIONAL DAY PARADE.
My friend the troll: Nathan failed to distinguish beteen S R Nathan the man and S R Nathan the president. The singing and respect paid is to the president (who juz happens to Nathan) not Nathan. A M’sian financier who advised successive M’sian ministers of finance in the 80s and 90s despite them belonging to rival factions, told me: “I’ ll advise a donkey so long as he holds the post of Finance Minister.”
The PAP lawyer said my friend was trying hard to find fault, which was a fair comment even if it sounded rich coming from someone trying really very hard to justify an ass of a comment.
But another PAPpy Ashok Sharma wanted to pick a fight perhaps its just you and your kind that failed to understand when the then President, SR Nathan made the comment he meant him as the President and not him as S R Nathan the man? The analogy, by the way, is most inappropriate at least, to me.
To which my friend replied
Nathan used the word “me”. That is not the correct word or term to use if he were referring to Nathan the president. He also dumb as Trump in addition to being as arrogant as the Donald isit? Sounds like it. LOL
*Why doesn’t he say “it is correct”? He doesn’t because it ain’t correct? Juz not incorrect.
**AS. Add another “s” and it becomes ASs. Delaration of interest. I’m getting a lunch at u/m place for naming and shaming the ASs.
I refer to this: http://themiddleground.sg/2016/02/12/god-save-the-key/
Middle Ground is ang moh tua kee isit?
Why can’t we just sing Majulah Kunchi (same tune and lyrics as Majulah Singapura with “Kunchi”, the Malay word for “key” for “Singapura” when the command Hormat (i.e. Salute) Presidente is given at the National Day parade?
Better still, we can use “Jaga Besar” (“Chief Watchman”) instead of “Kunchi”.
Mari kita rakyat Jaga Besar
sama-sama menuju bahagia;
Cita-cita kita yang mulia,
berjaya Jaga Besar.
Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Jaga Besar,
Majulah Jaga Besar!
Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Jaga Besar ,
Majulah Jaga Besar!
We can sing Majullah Singapura on other occasions.
Australian protocol is to play and sing God Saves the Queen when the Queen is present in person, followed by the national anthem. The national anthem is Advance Australia Fair and is played at other times. I think NZ has the same practice.
Tomorrow, I’ll post on why Nathan is wrong to equate himself with the Queen of the United Kingdom.
Whatever the outcome of its motion on the NCMP post (details below), WP will look good.
Heads it wins, tails it loses.
It’s not only me who says so but a pro-PAP lawyer (Hates TRE, TOC, believes in hanging, not helping the poor and elderly, and most probably drinks children’s blood to keep healthy) posted this on Facebook:
[Wayang Party: my words not his] played it perfectly – if they get it, they get their star debater in parliament. If they don’t, they will say PAP not sincere in offering the NCMP seat.
That is why I say – do not vacate the seat. The electorate voted LLL as the best loser – it is her seat and nobody else.
Nice to hear from a PAPpy that the WP is upping its game: MPs no longer a bunch of highly paid social worker whose heroine is PAP’s very own Kare Spade Tin (Parly is waste of time) but MPs who are walking the talk of being a check on the PAP administration.
Earlier he had posted this v.v. analysis of the law (bar the last para) on the NCMP post
A mistake the media keeps making is to state that Lee Li Lian was “offered” the NCMP post. There is nothing of the sort. Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, she is duly elected and has been declared elected as an NCMP. The only semblance of an “offer” is when a GRC is entitled to one or two seats, in which event, the GRC team is invited to elect the two NCMPs, failing which the election will be determined by lot. In Lee Li Lian’s case, she is the NCMP whether she likes it or not, until the NCMP post is vacated.
Under the same Act, Parliament is not obliged to declare it vacant – it is just empowered to do so. It is a real aberration for the same political party to refuse to take the oath for an NCMP seat and then offer another candidate to fill the seat – in effect the NCMP seat is filled not by the will of the people but the will of the Workers’ Party.
On that basis, the PAP and the Workers Party should respect the will of the people – that the duly elected NCMP is Lee Li Lian and not a second member of the East Coast GRC team. Parliament should therefore decline to declare it vacant, leaving the seat in the name of the person so elected. It is, of course, up to her to resign the seat but should not be allowed to just not take it up.
Professor Kishore Mahbubani* believes that we should consider the possibility that a rogue president could be elected, and that we should consider having the president be chosen by Parliament once again (“Let’s talk about policy failures and the elected presidency“.
The assumption is that the elected president can do serious damage to S’pore. The last time a PAP minister addressed the issue before PE 2011, the Pet Minister made it clear that the constitutional position of the president was jaga only. He has very limited powers that he could exercise by himself. And these are of a custodian nature i.e. jada work. So at best a rogue president can embarrass S’pore.
Well, we had one such appointed rogue president, Devan Nair, who behaved inappropriately when drunk in Sarawak. And he was appointed by parliament wasn’t he? Turned out badly didn’t he? A real disgrace to S’pore and S’poreans. Worse, he alleged he was fixed.
(Related post: The other PAP apologist, one Herod Cheng, on the issue of the presidency)
What Kishore and Cheng should tell us is that history shows us is an elected president can embarrass the PAP administration. Think Ong Teng Cheong and the wayang he staged over inmovable state assets to show us he was a good jaga.
That row made Ong Teng Cheong the hero of the anti-PAP nuts. Funny thing is that if he had his way, the reserves cannot ever be touched. Interest, dividends and capital gains would be locked up in the name of capital preservation. And he’s a hero to the anti-PAP mob? They bleat that the PAP steals our CPF. OTC wanted to locked away from use.
So if the two PAP apologists had argued that the elected presidency should be scrapped because a “rogue” president can embarrass the PAP administration, I’d sit down and shut up because they have a point. But they argue this way because it’d mean that they will no longer be able to grovel, “The PAP is always right.”
Seriously, there will be great black comedy when the PM has to explain publicly why an appointed president can be a better protector of reserves and minorities than an elected president can. Didn’t the PAP say only an elected president had the electoral mandate to resist Mad Dog Chee’s plans to squander the reserves if said Mad Dog became PM?
Ownself contradict ownself. Or should it be Ownself argue against Ownself.
The other black comedy will be to see the Worthless Party of very highly paid social workers (Kate Spade Tin is their poster gal: social work more impt than talking cock in parly) sit on their hands leaving Lion Man to savage the PAP. Yes I’m hoping the WP will not castrate Leon the Lion. Rumour has it that he had things he wanted to say about the internal review of the SDH tragedy that was made public but was told to sir down and shut up by the WP leaders. Let’s see if he speaks up when the tragedy is discussed in parly. If he doesn’t, then there’ll be some truth to the rumour of Low muzzling the Lion Man.
*He accused a US regulator of being a rogue regulator, after the regulator went after StanChart. Shortly, thereafter StanChart admitted it was a rogue bank. The PAP apologist looked like a real cock.
WP may soon have the chance to walk the talk of being a check on the PAP administration. But will it take it? Or prove that it’s the Worthless Party?
Let me explain.
Ms Lee Li Lian, Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong and Mr Leon Perera from the Workers’ Party have been elected as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP), the Elections Department (ELD) announced on Wednesday (Sep 16). (CNA).
We know Ms Lee will not take her seat. She has said that she won’t because she as an incumbent was rejected by the voters. (Btw,makes Lina Chiam look opportunistic, in accepting the post after GE 2011, given that her husband, the MP before the election, wanted her as his successor?)
The WP said that should Parliament resolve to fill the vacated NCMP seat left by Ms Lee’s decision not to accept the NMP Post, that Associate Professor Daniel Goh would fill that seat.
The ELD said: “The Attorney General is of the view that if any NCMP declared to be elected under Section 52 of the Parliamentary Elections Act fails to take and subscribe before Parliament the Oath of Allegiance under Article 61 of the Constitution at the first or second sitting of Parliament during its first session after the General Election, then Parliament may at its discretion declare that seat vacant. Parliament is not thereafter obliged to declare that seat be filled by the next succeeding candidate.”
The AG’s view is supported by Dr. Jack Lee who argues that if an opposition candidate declines to take up an NCMP seat, the parly may not be obliged to offer that seat to the next eligible opposition candidate.
This has thrown up a very interesting debate as to the legal obligations of Parliament to fill the NCMP seats. Besides Dr Jack Lee, Professor Thio Li-ann has also been reported as taking the position that there is no legal obligation on Parliament to offer the seat to the next eligible candidate. In contrast, Professor Kevin Tan argues that article 39 of the Constitution, read with section 52 of the Parliamentary Elections Act obliges Parliament to offer the seat. He is quoted as saying that “The seat cannot be left vacant. A combined reading of both provisions makes it clear that Parliament must have nine members who do not form the government.”
If parly refuses to fill the seat, surely the Wayang Party should ask the court to decide if the AG’s interpretation of the law is the correct one. True the WP left it to a part-time cleaner to ask the court to decide on whether the PM had the unfettered discretion in calling a by-election when it (the WP) would have been the beneficiary of such an action (Think Yaw’s vacating his MP’s post). M Ravi the lawyer who argued that the PM didn’t have unfettered discretion, said that the WP’s MP lawyers were “cow dung” for not supporting him.
Maybe that was WP Low practising non-action? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/low-shows-the-usefulness-of-non-action/
But since then, the WP has been going to court to row with the government on the need to get a licence from NEA to hold a trade fair, and with the MDA on whether an independent accountant should be appointed to supervise the disbursement of monies to the AHPETC.
And should the WP go to court, it has a good lawyer. Peter Low, WP’s go-to lawyer, is a highly respected lawyer in legal circles (unlike M Ravi: Ravi’s understanding of the law is problematic to many lawters, though not his bravery). Peter Low like Ravi works almost for free.
Today, Amos will stand trial and if he’s going to base his defence on his “right” of free speech, he should think again given that yesterday, a high court judge dismissed his application that the bail conditions, which forbid him from uploading or distributing any content online until his case has concluded, amounted to a gag order*.
It seems he believes in a constitutional right to suka suka say what he likes: Yee was remanded after the pre-trial conference, as he refused to set his blog posts to private. He had earlier flouted bail conditions by publishing two posts on his blog. His lawyer Alfred Dodwell said the teen feels very strongly that he has not done anything wrong with his posts.
“The Constitution does provide for a person to have the freedom of speech and expression, hence he feels very strongly that he is just doing that,” said Mr Dodwell**. (CNA last Friday).
Well M Ravi, Maruah and all the other ang moh tua kee kay pohs will be cheering Amos on (There’s a soccer match going on, the poor boy [Amos] is the ball, and the crowd watches in morbid fascination as the own-goals pile up on both sides. The new normal way to win, wrote a perceptive reader of this article https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/amos-parents-finally-got-it-walk-the-talk-amoss-groupies/#comments).
Sadly for Amos, the constitution is pretty clear on the limits on free speech here.
(2) Parliament may by law impose —
“He was anxious to find a response that would enable the mainstream media to keep its eyeballs. He wanted us at Singapore Press Holdings to think about the way forward.”
Well SPH, and the rest of constructive, nation-building media didn’t do what they were ordered to, did they? That despite throwing serious money and other resources at the problem.
Cybernauts. do not think the “right” tots.
For society the problem is that in cyberspace, anything goes. There is plenty of misleading information and lies out there from the likes of Roy Ngerng and Ng Kok Lim. And there is the bigotry of lazy abstraction, when commenting: “PAP always wrong”. (Mind you this does balance the “PAP is always right” of the SPH and MediaCorp publications, channels and stations.)
Then there is the issue of only listening to others who share one’s views and values, rather than being exposed to different views. Again the SPH and MediaCorp publications, channels and stations do the same, to be fair to cyberspace.
During the hearing, Justice Tay Yong Kwang asked Mr Dodwell what was so difficult about complying with these social media conditions. “They just have to learn to curb themselves,” he said.
Going by the Sri Lankan experience it all depends on whether a few good men are willing to stand in his way if the PAP PM of the day wants to declare a state-of-emergency if the PAP loses a general election..
Sri Lankan voters ejected Mr Rajapaksa in a presidential election on January 8th. Mr Rajapaksa was dismayed: according to Mangala Samaraweera, Sri Lanka’s new foreign minister, as the results became clear the soon-to-be former president discussed whether he could call a state-of-emergency and scrap the election. The attorney-general, the head of police and the army commander all refused, and thus “saved the country”, he says. By contrast, suggests Mr Samaraweera, the chief justice was ready to co-operate with the scheme to suspend democracy. (Mr Samaraweera should know what he is talking about: some years ago he was himself closely associated with Mr Rajapaksa’s camp.)
In S’pore, the president should be added to the list of the chief justice, attorney-general, the head of police and the armed forces commander: people who will have to agree with the PM if he wants to call a state-of-emergency.
The President under Article 150 of the Constitution can call for a state-of-emergency. And if the cabinet advises him to do so, he legally has no choice. But a president who flatly refuses to sign, and emails TRE of his decision can cause a train wreck in the PM’s plans.
Even if he agrees, the police and armed forces chiefs have to agree because the police and armed forces are needed to enforce the state-of-emergency: “Might is right”.
The chief justice’s and attorney-general’s support is needed to give a veneer of legality to the state-of-emergency.
A few good men can thwart any attempt to call a state-of-emergency: “Might is not always right”.
Ravi’s latest antics (see below) reminded me that I couldn’t stop laughing when the the go-to, kick-ass, take-no-prisoners constitutional lawyer for a drug mule who think the world owes him a living, hooligans who think it is a human right to disrupt YMCA activities and tell lies, and a gay (Tan Eng Hong) that homely gays don’t want to be associated with (some other gays, see below, didn’t want their case heard with his), said that S’pore is a “democratic society”.
No I’m not joking, M Ravi said, “We are instructed to place on notice our client’s profound sense of regret that in a democratic society like Singapore, her Constitutional rights and freedoms have been curtailed so drastically on a premise that in her submission is flawed, and all her rights are reserved.”
Now I’m not that looney (OK, OK, idealistic or naive) as his client to think S’pore is a democratic society. It is an authoritarian, de-facto one-party society that allows free, peaceful, intimidation free but “unfair” (here meaning a tilted field where the odds and rules favour the continued dominance of the PAP) elections to choose the next dictator for the next few yrs. And since 1959 by very big or at least decent majorities (save in 1963), the voters have chosen the PAP to rule.
There are some who want to change this state of affairs, not via the ballot box but by getting the courts to reinterpret the constitution. So far they too like Oppo politicans have been banging their heads against a steel door.
Alex Au, a social advocate for change, said, at the end of last yr, on the
con-job constitution, “If you sit back and take in the bigger picture, you’ll see that basically our constitution, as long interpreted, offers no protection for civil liberties or human rights: not freedom of speech, not freedom of assembly, not a right to transparent and accountable government, nor even a fair electoral process. The questions rush in. Is there something wrong with the constitution, the interpretation, or both?”
Well I’ve got news for Alex Au, rational activists, and anti-PAP paper activists, whether rational, or irrational and deluded, our constitution was drafted by ang mohs and locals steeped in the tradition that the ruling elite know best, certainly not the demos or mob or masses or ordinary people.
The drafters probably had liberal instincts but were elitists having gone to elite schools here or in the UK, and then to Oxbridge colleges. The mob are only allowed a choice of their dictator every 4-5 yrs. To further ensure the mob doesn’t get ideas beyond their station, it was drafted in such a way that all the colonial-era laws still applied and were “deemed” constitutionally legal.
Suited one LKY to a T when he came to power.
And here’s where the de-facto one-party state problem makes things more difficult. Think of China where the issue is how to use the law to help the party rule the country. The party sees the law as one of its tools; an instrument meant to help strengthen, rather than check, the power of one-party leadership.
True, we are not China, but the temptation is there.
Coming back to S’pore,then there is the judicial presumption that government actions are constitutional:
The court itself, both in oral arguments last summer and in this ruling, repeatedly expresses unwillingness to consider “extra-legal” and “emotional” arguments, which have their place in the legislative rather than the judicial process. The court’s role, the ruling said, was to be “independent, neutral and objective”, though in the early, throat-clearing section of this ruling, the court noted that it grants the government a “presumption of constitutionality”, because “our legislature is presumed not to enact legislation which is inconsistent with the Singapore Constitution.” In other words, the court will neutrally and objectively weigh the arguments presented by each side, though one side (the government’s) enters with the wind at its back.
I can’t argue against the decision because there are good precedents (no not from China or the USSR or North Korea, but from “white” Commonwealth countries) that lead to this conclusion.
Those who want peaceful change, have to go down the political route, not the constitutional road, in a parliamentary system. Even though the political road is very tough (think GRCs, campaigning rules, funding rules etc), the constitutional road is tougher because of the way the Constitution was drafted and judges’ view that the court “grants the government a “presumption of constitutionality”, because “our legislature is presumed not to enact legislation which is inconsistent with the Singapore Constitution.” In other words, the court will neutrally and objectively weigh the arguments presented by each side, though one side (the government’s) enters with the wind at its back.
Coming back to M Ravi. Every few months, this tot crosses my mind,”M Ravi thinks his grandfather wrote our laws? With JBJ assisting in the drafting?”
The latest occasion was on Friday, when I read that Ravi was escalating his row with PM’s press secretary (Background). He said, “Even as a trainee lawyer, I could understand that the PM’s press secretary was in breach of Section 44 of the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants and the PM is in breach of the same section being subject to the same guidelines of the Public Service Commission. A declaration will be sought in the High Court subsequently to determine the ambit of the said Section 44 and if both the PM and his Press Secretary are in breach of this code the PSC should investigate this matter and dismiss both of them.”
Well I never. Let’s see if Ravi wins (his record is lousy: no outright victories, one score draw: the need to call a by-election). From what my contacts in the Legal Service tell me about the code, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
The same tots on his grandfather and JBJ drafting the law crossed my mind in late October 2014 when Mr Ravi said (in an interview with TOC [Link]) that NParks had no authority to govern the expression of free speech and had overstepped its powers*.
M Ravi also said he may be taking an application to mount a constitutional challenge against Regulation 23(2)(b) of the Parks and Trees Act on behalf of those celebrity hooligans, Roy and New Citizen Hui Hui.
(For the record, he sent H3’s appeal to the wrong minister and had to resent the
BS missive. For the record too, Roy has recently blogged on the latest developments.)
Btw, he added to my merriment when a few days later, he decried the Court of Appeal’s decision when on Oct 29 it ruled that a law (399A of the Penal Code) that criminalises sex between men is constitutional. The ruling covered two cases contesting the law, one brought by two graphic designers who have been in loving relationship for 16 years, and the other by an artistic therapist (whatever that means) who had been arrested for a sordid, quickie sexual act in a public toilet. No need to guess who he represented: the artistic therapist Tan Eng Hong.
Related articles on the Constitution: Gd stuff even though Alex au is not a lawyer
*“It is apparent in the Act that the object of Parks and Trees Act is specifically for purposes of regulating the park, example prevent anyone from endangering the park.
No where in the act, the minister has been conferred with any authority to make regulations in relation to speech and assembly.
The Public Order Act has clearly exempted any requirement for permit for speech or demonstration. Therefore the charging of Ms Han and Roy under the Parks and Trees Act is ultra vires the Public Order Act and Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (PEMA).
The regulation in this regard, also violates article 9 of the Singapore Constitution that says that no one shall be deprived of his or her liberty, save in accordance with law.
Therefore the enactment of Parks and Trees regulation under Section 23(2) (b) in relation to speech and assembly are promulgated not in accordance with law.”
On 24th February, SunT’s headline on its regular column by SPH’s Managing Editor* screamed: “Who’s out of touch – our leaders or people?”. In slightly smaller lettering,” S’poreans have to also prove that they are not a mollycoddled lot who have forgotten the realities of making a living in this competitive world and how this country made it against the odds.”
It irritated me for three reasons. The obvious one is that S’poreans already know “the realities of making a living in this competitive world”: in the last few years, they have had to put up with minimal increases in real income, escalating property prices** and inflation caused in part by the government’s very liberal immigration policies, amidst turbulent economic conditions. The immigration policies that only now are being revised: not to reverse the situation, mind you, just to slow the growth of FTs from the cattle-truck load to a lorry-load. I didn’t say this, Grace Fu said this when she blasted WP’s plans to limit FTs.
The second reason is that he seems to have forgotten that the govt had already admitted that ordinary S’poreans neede income rises: the issue was how to achieve it. On 25 February, Tharman announced the Budget and he said later, “And if you can’t raise incomes for the average person, for the median household and for those at the lower end of the wage ladder, your society frays.”
The third reason, it irritated me is is the unspoken assumption (which he may not even realise he made) that S’poreans are not sovereign: we have to answer to a higher authority. And this authority grades us to see whether our views are acceptable or not. If not acceptable, go get locked up under ISA, is it Mr Managing Editor?
This assumption is best explained by Alex Au in this and Dr Jothie Rajah (the first wife of our Law Minister, according to Kum Hong)
It is here that Rajah brings up a novel point. Very often, the PAP in its defence alludes to how Singapore’s legal and political system is descended from Britain. This is used as yet another bullet point in support of ‘rule of law’ legitimacy. But she points out that in many ways, our laws are not descended from Britain. They are instead descended from colonial rule, and colonial rule is inherently illiberal. Colonial governments did not rule over citizens; they ruled over subjects. Colonial governors did not submit themselves to election nor permit much political contestation; they enacted laws such as the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act meant to control rebellion, and they saw themselves as the enlightened and civilised few sent here to protect the natives who could not be trusted to see their own best interests, grasp the facts or even understand the complex issues of the day.
The examples she studied and presented in her book all have a similar character. She thus argues that
The nation-state has adopted the colonial legal regime in a manner that renders the nation-state a neo-colonising entity, subordinating and infantilising citizen-subjects.
Coming back to Mr Managing Editor: with an ally like this, the PAP and PM must be wondering, “Who needs enemies?”
*His picture reminds me of one of Philip K Dick’s Unusuals in “Our Friends from Frolix 8”. The Ususuals ruled the solar system.
**Mah Bow Tan even ensured that property prices flew in a recession.https://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/property-prices-mm-lee-is-too-modest/
(Update on 17 September 2015 In 2013 The Court of Appeal said on Friday that Singapore’s constitution does not give the prime minister unfettered discretion in calling for an election to fill a vacated seat of an elected Member of Parliament.
The court’s three-judge panel said this in a 57-page document in which, at the same time, it dismissed the appeal of Hougang resident Vellama Marie Muthu against a High Court ruling last year that the prime minister does have the discretion.
Actually since technically the decision is “by the way” because the CA dismissed the appeal, and can be ignored. But it would be a brave lower court judge who decides to ignore the CA.)
Remember the Hougang by-election case? The bloggers have moved on, disappointed with the judgement*.
As I’ve juz heard that the petitioner, a part-time cleaner who resides in Hougang will not appeal the judgement that the PM is not obliged to call a by-election because the constitution does not require a by-election to be called if there is a vacancy, I tot this would be a gd opportunity to post on the judgement: raising points not raised by other bloggers.
First, let me commend the judge for not dismissing the case on technicalities, and on his diligence: 53 pages!
His judgement that the PM is not obliged to call a by-election because the constitution does not require a by-election to be called if there is a vacancy — surprised the legal academics and one Siow Kum Hong who the media had been regularly quoting on the case, and netizens. But should the academics and Siow have been surprised?
In this , I had asked: I wonder why no-one had petitioned the court to get the government to call a by-election until this year? Surely there were lawyers* at that time who are as smart and brave as Ravi** ? As Chiam was an MP on two of the above instances, perhaps someone should ask him why he never bothered to bring a case? Does he agree that the PM has an unfettered discretion on whether to call a by-election or not to fill a vacancy?
*There was JBJ who although, not very smart, was brave. And there was Francis Seow, a former Solictor-General, a good litigator with the brain of an intellectual, and the heart of a lion. He is still alive though not in practice. He is a Harvard Fellow, wanted by the S’pore government on some tax charge. He was detained under the ISA for a short while in the late 1980s.
It could explain why the WP (its MP lawyers were called “cow dung” by the petitioner’s lawyer, Ravi, for not lending WP’s weight to his client’s case) did not raise the issue in parly or in the courts. The three MP lawyers may have advised that a court petition to compel the PM to call a by-election would not succeed.
One grumble that I hear the academics quietly muttering against the judgement is that it was a formalistic interpretation of the constitution, not taking into account the intention of the constitution. (Siow has said on Facebook that it is formalistic.)
Well, have they ever tot that the drafters of the constitution were men of their time? At that time, the dominant view among the English and other British judges was that the executive could be trusted because ministers were “our kind of chaps”, and that because the executive had the mandate of the voters (which could be lost if the voters were angry with it), it could and should have largely unfettered discretion: the courts should only intervene when it was clear on the face of it that something was wrong. It should never question the motives of the executive unless there was blindly obvious evidence that shumething was wrong.
Witness, the slew of cases that allowed detention without trial on the say so of the minister, and the refusal of the courts to question the executive’s motives even in the UK. Times have changed.
Our constitution had to be amended because the Court of Appeal here ruled that it could judicially review the reasons behind an ISA detention, over-ruling a long-established local ruling. I once heard the senior state counsel in that case explain that the judges were influenced by changes in judicial thinking in other Commonwealth countries. My take is that our judges wanted to be part of the “in” crowd of judges. They wanted to continue being invited to the lunches and dinners of the ang moh judges.
Penultimately, going by the media reports, it seems the judge never asked the lawyers to argue the point on which he decided the case. When I was studying law in London, we had the benefit of hearing eminent judges talk on their decision-making process. One thing they insisted on: they would only decide on the points argued before them. If they had any original ideas, they would put it before opposing counsel and ask them to argue the point. Seems this was not done here. Reminds me of a defamation case brought against JBJ by some ministers. The judge found against JBJ on a point neither side had raised, nor had the judge asked the lawyers to argue the point. Never ever heard of that principle invoked ever again. Can’t even remember what it was.
Finally, by deciding the issue on the grounds he did, it is unlikely that the petitioner would have to pay the AG’s cost which would have been substantial, especially as AG used a Senior Counsel in private practice. Guess who pays? We the tax payer. SIGH.
*Their restraint in commenting on the case could be due to their fear of being “forced” to retract their comments by the Attorney-General, like one Alex Au was “forced” to do as regards on the decision in the Wally Woffle’s case. He subsequently “repented” of his act of removing the offending post (bit like Peter denying that he knew Jesus and then feeling upset with himself). Actually, as a trained lawyer, I agreed with AG. Wonder if AG repented of being nice to Alex Au?
Seriously, perhaps the NSP, with a lawyer as its VP, could conduct a seminar for bloggers on how to criticise judges’ decisions without running foul of the AG.
I was pleasantly surprised to read that a High Court judge on Tuesday dismissed the attorney-general’s arguments to have an application dismissed. The application had asked the court to determine the prime minister’s discretionary powers in calling by-elections in Singapore.
What this means is that the Court is satisfied that there is an arguable case and that the courts recognise the need for clarification on the constitutional questions raised in the application. It does not mean that the court has made a decision against the prime minister on the merits of the application.
As a trained lawyer, I tot that the court would strike out the application on the grounds as argued by the attorney-general’s representative in court that the application was “wholly misconceived”, “legally unsustainable and unarguable in law and fact”.
I tot that the application was made too early*. The lady who sought it should have waited until July (about six months after the seat was deemed vacated) before trying her luck.
I tot the only issues would be whether the AG would ask for punitive costs to deter future “frivolous” applications by cleaners and other “lesser mortals”, and whether the court would do agree to do so.
But never mind, it’s gd that the court is prepared to hear the application, and not rely on a technicality to dismiss it.
Which brings me to the point of this posting.
I believe that a famous American judge once said that the American Supreme Court judges read the newspapers, implying that they are aware of political and social trends. When I was a law student in England, the English judges had a reputation for claiming not to follow social or political developments. They often even claimed ignorance of daily life. When I was back in S’pore, I was sure that the local judges didn’t read the constructive, nation-building local newspapers. And who can blame them?
But going by this result, I’m sure that one judge, at least, even if he doesn’t read the local newspapers, must read some of the sociopolitical blogs. So Ravi, you may have done some good at TOC. And Richard, keep on plugging away, legal threats, trolls, flamers and unhappy family members.
Update at 6.30pm on $ AApril 2012: Juz read The attorney-general is dissatisfied with the decision of judge Philip Pillai and has filed a Notice of Appeal against the decision by the Honourable Judge and they have filed a Summons application for the Appeal to be heard on an urgent basis.
Sore loser. Let justice be seen to be done. And not hide under behind technicalties.
*The Prime Minister had already announced in Parliament on 9 March that he “intend[s] to call a by-election in Hougang”, and that the court has no jurisdiction in compelling the Prime Minister to call one within any specific time frames. It also argued that “a court’s power to intervene in an act of the Executive is premised… on there being a controversy requiring such intervention … is no such controversy in the present case … the Prime Minister has not refused to exercise his discretion, there is no executive decision that could legitimately be the subject of a judicial review.” (Yahoo! report).
From films about the Romans, many S’poreans will be familiar with terms like “emperor” , “consul” and “senator”. What most won’t be familiar with is the word “tribune”.
There was a time, when the tribune was the most powerful man in Rome. He derived his authority (which included being above the law) because he was the only leader who had to win a Rome-wide election where all the citizens voted. He was apponted by the will of the people, and derived his powers from the simple fact of winning an election where all Romans voted.
In the S’pore context, even though, those who argue that the president can be an activist president do not have the law (OK the lawyers) on their side, their views could still prevail. In a democracy (assuming S’pore is one), the will of the people matters.
In 1975, Australia had a constitutional crisis which started when the opposition-controlled senate refused to pass legislation allowing the unpopular Labor government to spend money (block supply). It ended when the Labor appointed governor- general sacked the Labor prime minister who still commanded a majority in the house of representatives. An election of both houses of parliament followed, and Labor lost.
Even though the senate retains its power to block supply, and the governor-general the power to dismiss the government, these powers have not been used since 1975.
The reason is that these actions are considered too controversial to try again. The Australian public has decided that whatever the constitution allows, the senate should not block supply, nor should the government be sacked by the governor-general. The government can only lose power in a general election or if loses the support of the majority in the house of representatives.
Putting this into the S’pore context, the role of the elected president can be changed (without changing the constitution) if
– an eligible candidate says he will be an “activist” president;
– he gets elected;
– he walks the walk, not juz talk the talk; and
– the government, instead of removing him or ignoring him or telling him to shut up, listens to him.
Then the role of the president will change by convention (customary practice). And if the government ignores him or removes him, then the voters at the next GE will have the final say. They can remove the government that doesn’t want an activist president.
Is this easier than winning two-thirds of the parliamentary seats and amending the constitution? At least this process doesn’t depend on the People in Blue, the near clones of the MIW.