Tagged: 2015 Singapore general election

Textualism vs. Purposive Interpretation: Must an NCMP Seat Be Filled?

Dr Jaclyn L Neo
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

In a recent blogpost, Dr. Jack Lee argued that if an opposition candidate declines to take up an NCMP seat, the PAP-dominated government 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.”

Parliament (Source: Singapore Parliament)

Parliament (Source: Singapore Parliament)

There are clearly good legal and policy arguments for and against imposing a legal obligation on Parliament to offer the seat to the next eligible opposition candidate where it had been previously declined. The disagreement stems from differing approaches to statutory and constitutional interpretation. Continue reading

Updated: When an NCMP Seat is Turned Down

Sign in front of Parliament House, Singapore

Who will be the NCMPs in the 13th Parliament of Singapore? (By Smuconlaw [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

Read the 17 September 2015 update

Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Assistant Professor of Law
School of Law, SMU

AS THE DUST SETTLES after the 2015 general election (and I don’t just mean the haze), thoughts now turn to the filling of the Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats in Parliament.

The issue remains relevant as the possibility that the Opposition would capture at least nine parliamentary seats, raised by Jaclyn Neo in a recent post, did not happen. Citizens returned the People’s Action Party (PAP) to power with an increased vote share of 69.9% based on the votes cast in Singapore.

Continue reading

Towards True Political Pluralism: Whither the NCMP scheme?

Dr Jaclyn L Neo
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

Today, 11 September 2015, Singaporeans go to the poll. For the first time since its independence in 1965, every (elected) parliamentary seat is being contested. A total of nine political parties are contesting in this year’s general elections. Among the questions about the anticipated outcomes is whether there will be any Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) in the new Parliament. The NCMP scheme was introduced in 1984. It allocates parliamentary seats to opposition candidates who have obtained the highest number of votes but did not win any seats in any constituency. Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore states that apart from elected Members and nominated Members, Parliament shall consist of members “known as non-constituency Members, as the Legislature may provide in any law relating to Parliamentary elections to ensure the representation in Parliament of a minimum number of Members from a political party or parties not forming the Government”. Continue reading

Online Election-time Engagement Tricky as Ever

Wait, are you sure you can post that?

Wait, are you sure you can post that? (By María Tobías [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Assistant Professor of Law
School of Law, SMU

IT’S BEEN INTERESTING to see that a post I made in 2012 at the time of the Hougang by-election has been seeing a surge of visits, as people try to figure out what they can or can’t post on cooling-off day and polling day of the 2015 general election (10 and 11 September).

The law hasn’t changed since then, so what I said in that post still applies today. This means online election-time engagement still remains a tricky issue for many.

Continue reading