The High Court rejected Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s application contesting the legitimacy of the upcoming Presidential Election which has been reserved for Malay candidates today.
Besides having his appeal dismissed, Dr Tan was also attacked for having “selfish” and “self-serving” motives by Deputy Attorney General Hri Kumar Nair – a former Member of Parliament from the PAP.
Judge: “No difference whether President is elected by electorate or Parliament.”
Dr Tan, who lost by 0.35% of votes to current President Tony Tan in the 2011 Presidential Elections, filed an application in May 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.
In his application, Dr Tan questioned the Government’s inclusion of President Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first elected President when he was an appointed President. The Elected Presidency scheme was only instated in the middle of President Wee’s second term.
Dr Tan argued that if the Government 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 rules.
Justice Quentin Loh released a 68-page judgement today ruling 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 my judgement, the recent constitutional amendments reflect a re-emphasis on the President’s unifying role and the conviction that, in order for the President to fulfil that role, that office must reflect the multi-racial character of our country.
“From the perspective of ensuring multi-racial representation in the Presidency in view of the President’s symbolic role, it makes no difference whether the President was elected by the electorate or by Parliament. In either case, the President’s capacity to symbolise Singapore is undercut if the occupants of the office do not reflect our multi-racial composition.”
His judgement agrees with the recommendation from the Attorney General’s Chambers that Parliament’s decision must be carried through since the reserved election framework is built upon the responsibility to safeguard multicultural representation.
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 added:
“(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 has less than a week, until next Wednesday, to file an appeal to the courts.
The High Court’s Judgement here: http://bit.ly/2tBBtYf
Dr Tan has responded to the accusations of the DAG.