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Counting of president legal or policy issue?




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Dr Tan Cheng Bock posted on Facebook yesterday and queried Minister Shanmugam on the contradictions in his arguments about the counting of the number of terms lapsed since the first president.

It is common knowledge that President Ong Teng Cheong was the first elected president of Singapore. However, the parliament has decided that it will count the first president from President Wee Kim Wee’s term. Dr Tan had argued in court that it was unconstitutional for the Government to start its count of the five terms to trigger a reserved election from the term of President Wee Kim Wee, as he was not elected by the people.

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Workers’ Party’s Mr Sylvia Lim posed the question of whether it was a legal or policy issue in parliament and alleged  that the PM led the parliament to believe that it was a legal issue. In response, the Law Minister K. Shanmugam said that it was a policy decision to count from the time of President Wee.

The apex court of Singapore, which had five judges hear this appeal, upheld an earlier judgment on July 7 that Parliament has the right to count from the term of former President Wee Kim Wee, for the purpose of reserving the upcoming presidential election for candidates from the Malay community.

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