John Tan, the vice-chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party will not be able to contest in the upcoming General Election, according to a High Court ruling.
In July this year, Tan announced that he sought a declaration of his eligibility to contest in the next General Election (GE) from the High Court.
Tan and activist Jolovan Wham were found guilty of scandalising the judiciary last year, making them the first to be convicted under new contempt of court laws that came into effect in October 2017.
On April 27 last year, Wham wrote on his Facebook page that Malaysia’s judges were more independent than Singapore’s when it came to cases with political implications.
The AGC initiated contempt of court action against Wham over the post.
About a week after, on May 6, Tan posted on Facebook that the AGC’s move to prosecute Wham confirmed the truth of what Wham had written.
The prosecution had called for Tan to be sentenced to at least 15 days in jail. Tan submitted that he should be jailed for three days.
In asking for a custodial sentence for Tan, the prosecution pointed to his previous conviction in 2008 where he was convicted of contempt of court for turning up at a defamation hearing in a T-shirt with a kangaroo dressed in a judge’s gown.
Tan was fined S$5,000 for contempt of court earlier this year.
International human rights lawyer M Ravi served Tan’s application to the Attorney-General’s Chambers “to seek a declaration from the Court that he be allowed to stand for elections and that he is qualified to do so under Article 44 of the Constitution of Singapore”.
However, under Article 45(1)(e) of the Constitution, anyone “convicted of an offence by a court of law in Singapore or Malaysia and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year, or to a fine of not less than $2,000 and has not received a free pardon” cannot contest in the General Election or become a Member of Parliament.
In his written judgment released on Wednesday (Nov 6), Justice Aedit Abdullah dismissed Tan’s application, saying he was disqualified from standing in elections under the “plain words” of the Article.
According to a Facebook post, Tan’s lawyer M Ravi told TODAY that his client “expresses his utter disappointment” and that their legal team is studying the decision on the prospects of appealing against it.
Ravi also said that the decision was “deeply disturbing”, as “people who are not convicted of a criminal offence can now be disqualified from standing for elections”. /TISG