Depending on Parliament vote, charge & verdict, WP's Pritam Singh & Faisal Manap may lose seats

What are the implications of the COP's recommendations?

Andrew Koay | February 10, 2022, 07:36 PM

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On Feb. 10, the Committee of Privileges (COP) released a report on its findings regarding the lie told by former Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan in Parliament.

It recommended that WP's Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap be referred to the public prosecutor.

As noted by Singh, one potential result of this is that the Leader of the Opposition and Faisal could be forced to vacate their seats as MPs for Aljunied GRC.

Singh accused of lying to COP

Specifically, the report surmised that Singh had "told untruths to this Committee" when he was called to give evidence.

The COP pointed to Singh as playing a "key and leading role" in guiding Raeesah in maintaining and repeating her lie; this assertion was denied by Singh during the COP proceedings.

If found guilty in court, depending on the specific charge, Singh could possibly face a fine, a jail term or both.

Faisal accused of contempt

Faisal, on the other hand, was said by the COP to have refused to answer questions during the proceedings, citing Sections 31 (m) and (n) of the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act.

If found guilty, he could also possibly face a fine or a jail term, or both.

However, it's important to note that before the Public Prosecutor can take action, Parliament will have to vote on whether to follow through on the COP's recommendations.

The vote is expected to take place when Parliament meets next week (Feb. 14).

Possibility of disqualification as MPs

If Parliament votes to accept the recommendations, and if charged and found guilty, that may impact both Pritam and Faisal's statuses as MPs.

Depending on the actual sentences meted out, both may be disqualified from serving because of Article 45(e) of the Constitution of Singapore, which states:

"Subject to this Article, a person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament who... has been convicted of an offence by a court of law in Singapore or Malaysia and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than $2,000..."

This means that if a court case does proceed against Singh or Faisal, and they are found guilty and fined at least S$2,000, or sentenced to a jail term of one year or more, they will no longer be allowed to continue as an MP.

JB Jeyaretnam's case

The WP previously faced a similar situation when former leader JB Jeyaretnam was jailed and fined S$5,000 in 1986 for making a false declaration in the party's accounts.

Jeyaretnam, who was the MP for Anson SMC, was forced to vacate his parliamentary seat and was disqualified from Parliament until 1991.

Though he contested elections after his ban ended, the fiery orator was not able to win a seat in Parliament again.

Will Aljunied GRC face a by-election?

So if two of the five Aljunied GRC MPs lose their seats in Parliament, will this trigger a by-election?

Not automatically.

According to the Parliamentary Elections Act, a Writ of Election shall be issued only if all the MPs for the GRC have vacated their seats; unless the remaining Aljunied MPs decide to resign, no by-election will be called.

In the meantime, Singh has pledged that he and Faisal will "continue our work - including but not limited to MPS, estate walks, house visits and other parliamentary commitments - as per normal".

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