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.