Tagged: Parliamentary elections in Singapore

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.

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Hougang By-election Case: What Court Decision on By-election Reveals

A poll card issued for the 2011 general election

A poll card issued for the 2011 general election. (Photograph by Jacklee [public domain or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

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

THE COURT OF APPEAL’S judgment of 5 July in Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v Attorney-General[1] – popularly known as the Hougang by-election case – shows that the Court sees its role as policing the margins rather than involving itself in the heart of politics.

The decision came as a surprise to those used to a judicial stance that is fairly deferential towards the Government. It is one of only a handful of cases in which the courts have not accepted the Government’s interpretation of the Constitution.

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NCMPs as Punggol East By-election Candidates

Gerald Giam photographed in April 2011

Workers’ Party NCMP Gerald Giam in April 2011. Will the opposition parties field one of their NCMPs as a candidate in the forthcoming by-election? (Photograph by NewNation.sg. [CC-BY-2.0], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

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

I’M INTRIGUED that the media has been reporting that the Workers’ Party may field one of their existing Non-constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) as a candidate in the forthcoming by-election in Punggol East Single Member Constituency.[1]

This possibility, which I have previously blogged about, arises because of the way Articles 46(2A) and 46(2B) of the Constitution[2] are drafted. These provisions state:

46(2A) A non-constituency Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat as such a Member if he is subsequently elected as a Member of Parliament for any constituency.

(2B) A nominated Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat as such a Member —

(a) if he stands as a candidate for any political party in an election; or

(b) if, not being a candidate referred to in paragraph (a), he is elected as a Member of Parliament for any constituency.

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Shock Resignation of Speaker Michael Palmer – Another By-election in the Offing?

Parliament House photographed in August 2010

Parliament House, Singapore, photographed in August 2010. (Photograph by Smuconlaw [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

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

THE SHOCK RESIGNATION of Michael Palmer as Speaker of Parliament, Member of Parliament for Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC), and member of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) due to a personal indiscretion has once again raised the intriguing possibility that a by-election may be called.

Things would have been different if Punggol East had been a Group Representation Constituency (GRC). No by-election may be called in a GRC unless all the MPs representing that constituency vacate their seats.[1]

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What Can You Say on Cooling-off Day?

Antoine-Augustin Préault, Le Silence (19th century)

Ssssh! French sculptor Antoine-Augustin Préault‘s 19th-century work, Le Silence. (Photograph by Electron [public domain], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

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

UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN living under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ll know that polling day for the by-election in Hougang Single Member Constituency is tomorrow, 26 May. This makes today “cooling-off day”, when no active election campaigning is permitted by law.

At 12:46 am today, one of my Facebook friends posted a hyperlink to a speech by Workers’ Party candidate Png Eng Huat delivered at the Party’s last rally before cooling-off day. The person added a comment to the effect that the article was worth reading, but that he would not quote any portions of it due to cooling-off-day restrictions.

Subsequently, another person posted a comment on the contents of the speech. The original poster then responded that that person might wish to delete the comment in view of cooling-off-day restrictions. Then ensued a discussion about what the law permits or disallows.

That got me thinking about the issue. Continue reading

Low Thia Khiang as a Candidate for By-election in Hougang?

Low Thia Khiang at a Workers' Party general election rally, Bedok Stadium, Singapore

Workers’ Party Secretary-General and Aljunied GRC MP Low Thia Khiang at an election rally in Bedok Stadium, 30 April 2011. (Photograph by NewNation.sg [CC-BY-2.0], via the Wikimedia Commons.)

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

IT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED that nomination day for the by-election in Hougang Single Member Constituency will be on 16 May 2012, and if there is a contested election, polling day will be on 26 May. This ten-day period is the shortest permitted by the Parliamentary Elections Act (‘PEA’),[1] and means a nine-day campaigning period (no campaigning may take place on ‘cooling-off day’, the eve of polling day).

The Workers’ Party has confirmed it will be seeking to hold on to this constituency that it won in the 2011 general election. Since the National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic Party and Singapore People’s Party have said they do not intend to take part, attention turns to the identity of the candidate that the WP will field against the People’s Action Party‘s candidate. Continue reading

Hougang By-election Case: The State of Play

A view of the Supreme Court Building with Parliament House in the foreground

A view of the Supreme Court Building (with disc) with Parliament House in the foreground. (By Smuconlaw (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via the Wikimedia Commons) On 9 April 2012 the High Court, which sits in the building, issued the grounds of its decision in the Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v Attorney-General, the Hougang by-election case.

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

 

ON 9 APRIL, Justice Philip Pillai, sitting in the High Court, released the grounds for his decision for granting leave – that is, permission – for Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu’s judicial review application in the Hougang by-election case. She had applied for a declaration that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion when deciding whether or not a by-election should be called in Hougang Single Member Constituency, and a mandatory order requiring the PM to advise the President to call a by-election within three months or some other reasonable time determined by the court.

A mandatory order is a type of prerogative order. Prerogative orders, formerly called prerogative writs, were so called because at first they could only be issued at the prerogative of the British Crown. However, by the end of the 16th century, any aggrieved citizen could ask for them to be issued.

An application for one or more prerogative orders is made pursuant to Order 53 of the Rules of Court, and is a two-stage process. The hearing before Justice Pillai was the first stage. Here, what the applicant had to do was to seek leave to apply for a mandatory order. Why is this stage necessary? As the judge pointed out, it is “intended to be a means of filtering out groundless or hopeless cases at an early stage, and its aim is to prevent a wasteful use of judicial time and to protect public bodies from harassment (whether intentional or otherwise) that might arise from a need to delay implementing decisions, where the legality of such decisions is being challenged”.[1] Continue reading