Tan Cheng Bock loses appeal against reserved election


Veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock lost his appeal challenging the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential election that has been set aside for candidates from the Malay community.

The Court of Appeal threw out his appeal to dismiss the High Court’s earlier rejection of his application this morning after reserving judgment at the appeal hearing on 31 July 2017.

In his application to the courts, Dr Tan referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) recommendation and Parliament’s subsequent acceptance that a reserved election should be triggered this year since there hasn’t been a Malay president for the past five consecutive terms.

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.

Therefore, the triggering of a reserved election this year, he argued, would be unconstitutional.

Justice Quentin Loh ruled 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.”

Dr Tan responded that the Judge may have misconstrued the Constitutional provisions surrounding the matter and filed an appeal.

He also indicated that he would not pursue the matter if the Court of Appeal rejects his application.

In rejecting his appeal, Singapore’s highest court of law reportedly stated it was lawful for Parliament to specify President Wee Kim Wee’s last term as the first term, for the purposes of determining a reserved election.

Interestingly, the new amendments to the Elected Presidency Scheme that triggered a reserved election this term were introduced in parliament in November 2016 – about 8 months after Dr Tan, a former MP, announced his intentions to contest the 2017 election in March 2016.

He had previously lost the last Presidential Election in 2011 by just 0.35% of votes.


  1. Dr Tan Cheng Bock, all is not lost. With such an outcome there is more concern and urgency to pursue your goal and aspiration to continue serving Singapore in a formal capacity. You sure must know that there is no need to do it from the Istana. Given the dynamic of our political climate and single party rule, Dr Tan Parliament is the best place and platform for you to be the People’s Voice. Go in as an Opposition MP! Form a political party or join one and make your presence felt. I feel you will do more and better and effective as an opposition member of parliament. This is not the end. Who know six years henceforth you may still resign to pursue your Istana chase. We have had one and now two politicians who resigned to fulfill their duties to fill the vacancy in the Istana,

  2. Join the oppostion is a good option to consider if you want to be heard, stay relevant and serve the people effectively. PAP is a sunset party under the present leadership.

  3. What can a single man do to a machinery of unscrupulous agents, of which most if not all are just pet woofwoof to the corrupted buggers. If only the mass support could be given, then probably outcome would be different. Anyway, they are well known for being the biggest bullies….

  4. It is not about Mr Tan contesting but rather it should be an open President election. This is because the pledge say so “Regardless of Race” should not bias to certain race as we are a multi-racial society. If not then the phrase :Regardless of race should change to ” Regardless of what government says” in our national pledge.

  5. With all this happening chances of dictatorship is very real and coming soon. Just be cause when people don’t care about politics enough, country will reduce to governance of a 3rd world. Seems like everything is failing in this country. Turn it back before it’s too late like Philippines or malaysia.

  6. I am surprised at the court’s decision. I thought that courts rule not only on the letter of the law BUT also the spirit. Possibly Singapore is unique in that we look at the letter and not the spirit?

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