Dr Tan Cheng Bock has filed an appeal through his lawyers today, against the High Court’s rejection of the application he filed challenging the Government’s new rules dictating that the Presidential Election to be held this year will be a reserved one since there has not been a President from the Malay community for five consecutive terms.
Today is the deadline for his appeal to be filed.
In his original application submitted in May, Dr Tan questioned whether the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) inclusion of President Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first elected President (when he was an appointed President) when counting how many terms without a Malay president has passed, is constitutional.
The Elected Presidency scheme was only instated in the middle of President Wee’s second term.
Dr Tan argued that if the AGC counts from President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s first rightfully elected President, this year’s PE would not need to be reserved in accordance to the new amendments.
Justice Quentin Loh ruled last week that, “Ultimately, since (the Constitution) does not fetter Parliament’s power … Parliament’s choice of (the first elected President) is a policy decision which falls outside the remit of the courts.”
Besides having his application dismissed, Dr Tan, who lost by 0.35% of votes to current President Tony Tan in the 2011 Presidential Elections, was also attacked for having “selfish” and “self-serving” motives by Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Hri Kumar Nair – a former Member of Parliament from the PAP.
In his submissions to the High Court, DAG Nair accused Dr Tan of trying to “undermine” multiracial presidency and that he is “running a case that is entirely self-serving.” He said:
“(Dr Tan) is advancing a strained interpretation of the Constitution so that he can apply to stand as a candidate in the coming (PE).
“His motives are purely selfish and he has shown no regard for the principle of multiracial representation which Parliament intended to safeguard.”
He claimed that Dr Tan’s bid “undermines the longstanding imperative for multiracial representation in the office of the President, which the reserved election framework seeks to safeguard”.
Dr Tan responded to the DAG’s claims on his Facebook page:
“For the DAG to call me “selfish” and having “no regard for the principle of multiracial representation” is hitting below the belt, highly inflammatory and encroaches into dangerous racial politics. The DAG is a public servant and an ex-PAP MP. He should not have made such a statement, which is now widely reported by the press.
“This case is not about race. It is about process and procedures. It is about upholding the Constitution. Let’s keep it that way.”