“Judge May Have Misconstrued Constitutional Provisions”: Tan Cheng Bock on Constitutional Challenge Appeal


Dr Tan Cheng Bock filed an appeal on Wednesday, contesting the High Court’s rejection of his application challenging the legitimacy of the Presidential Election 2017 that is set to be a reserved one for Malay candidates.

Dr Tan announced his intentions to contest the 2017 Presidential Election in March 2016. He had previously lost the last Presidential Election in 2011 by just 0.35% of votes.

In November 2016, Parliament announced new amendments to the elected presidential scheme and outlined that since there has not been a President from the Malay community for five consecutive terms, the 2017 election will be reserved for those from the Malay community.

In his constitutional challenge to the court, Dr Tan disputed the counting of the five consecutive terms and argued that if the AGC counts from President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s first rightfully elected President instead of counting from President Wee Kim Wee who was an appointed 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.”

In a statement released this week, Dr Tan revealed his reasons for appealing the court’s decision and that his lawyers had advised him that the Judge may have misconstrued the Constitutional provisions surrounding the matter.

We republish his statement in full here:

Appeal to The Court of Appeal
My Fellow Singaporeans
After studying the reasons given by the Court and reading the official Court transcripts, my lawyers have advised that the Judge may have misconstrued the relevant Constitutional provisions. I have therefore filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal (CA No. 124 of 2017) to review the Court decision. I will leave it to my lawyers to submit the relevant legal arguments.
The appeal is likely to be heard on the week of 25 July 2017. The Court of Appeal will sit in open court. The appeal timelines were agreed beforehand between the AG and ourselves so that the case will not affect the Presidential elections in September 2017. I also appreciate the fact that Justice Loh and the High Court have done everything possible to enable this case to be heard swiftly.
I am heartened that many Singaporeans are taking a healthy interest in the law-making process and the Constitution as a result of this case. These are important things for us and our children to know. We must never take these institutions for granted.



  1. Dr. Tan U right if fact n history can be overturned.How r the government going to teach the children to respect law . Dr. thk U for bravery n upright to defend the constitution of SINGAPORE

  2. I suspect the Judge has used a copy of PAP English Dictionary.

    Please bring along copies of Weber, Oxford, Cambridge and Britannica English Dictionary to help the Judge cross reference interpretation of the words.

  3. Its unlawful, unethical and utterly disrespecful (of “we the citizens of Singapore”) for the garmen to change facts and history of our country

  4. You are fighting for the principle. Never get discouraged because of the recent inaccurate judgement. Nothing is further from the truth. Truth of serving the nation well since 1980.

  5. The pledge, anthem,songs and everything under Spore sun belongs to PAP….since being creators they take liberty to change whatever and whenever they want….whos to say?….the. only way to stop them is thru the ballot box….gng thru legal or media or shouting at Hong Lim and Istana or any other way will not work….havent we seen for past 50 yrs already?

  6. I am no lawyer, but from the judge’s statement, it basically seems to say that our Constitution gives Parliament full power over the laws or policies it creates and applies, so the choice of determining who is the first elected president is based on the Parliament and the courts have no jurisdiction over them. This is pretty worrying, because it means Parliament can pass ANY laws as long as they have the majority and there is no independent body to provide any checks against it, no matter how extreme they may be or how much they infringe on our rights.

  7. If it is true, I find it comical. This is a sensitive issue and the judge must have had taken all necessary precaution to get the verdict right the first time round and made sure the verdict is air tight. So as much as I hope for an inclusive election, I have my doubts in the possibility on winning especially taken the past history of many previous verdicts.

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