SDP files lawsuit challenging govt's decision not to hold Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC by-election

Going to court.

Belmont Lay | September 14, 2017, 12:22 AM

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has filed a lawsuit in the High Court challenging the government's decision not to hold a by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

The SDP said it has engaged lawyers from Peter Low & Choo LLC as counsel and that a pre-trial conference has been set for Oct. 9.

SDP argument

The SDP is arguing that a by-election is in order as the four-member GRC was reduced to three Members of Parliament last month after Halimah Yacob resigned to run for president.

The SDP cited in its statement an article in the constitution, which states that whenever the seat of an MP becomes 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.”

The SDP also argued that the ruling government does not get to choose when to have an election as it pleases.

The SDP said: “Even though it won the last elections and forms the Government, it cannot and must not be allowed to do as it pleases without any check from the opposition.”

“It was the PAP that mandated that each GRC include at least one candidate from a predetermined minority race. But the same party is also the one who has arbitrarily decided that if that minority member resigns, there is no need to replace him or her in a by-election,” the SDP added.

No by-election

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Feb. 6, 2017, that if a minority candidate leaves the group representation constituency (GRC), a by-election will not be called.

Chan’s response was a reply to the Workers’ Party’s Pritam Singh, who asked in Parliament what would happen if a minority member of a GRC stepped down to run for president.

Singh had used Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob as an example.

Chan said the GRC system has been in place since 1988 to include at least one member of a minority race in each team and to ensure that political campaigning based on race, language or religion will not occur, as elected members are to serve all Singaporeans, regardless.

The outcome of such a system has seen more than enough minority MPs in Parliament.

Chan said there are 25 minority MPs out of 89, “more than what you’d expect proportionately from adding up the percentage of Malays, Indians and other minorities”.

“Even if we have one less, that is 24 out of 89, which is 27 percent of Parliament,” he said.

Chan then twice addressed Halimah as “Madam President” instead of “Madam Speaker”, to loud laughter near the end of the Parliament debate.

Related article:

No by-election if Halimah Yacob leaves Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, quits PAP

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