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SDP Loses Legal Challenge Marsiling-Yew Tee By-Election, Pays S$10,764.35 in State Costs

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The High Court has dismissed a legal challenge by the Singapore Democratic Party calling for a by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

Commenting on the ruling, SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said that the party is “very disappointed” is exploring whether to appeal the ruling.

SDP assistant treasurer Wong Souk Yee, who made the application to the High Court, was ordered to pay the state costs of $$10,764.35.

Wong made the application after Mdm Halimah Yacob’s resignation as Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP to run in the presidential election last year.

She won in a walkover and the MP position has not been filled since, leaving the GRC with its 3 remaining MPs Lawrence Wong, Ong Teng Koon and Alex Yam.

Instead, the PAP appointed a grassroots advisor to cover the absence of Mdm Halimah – Zaqy Mohamed, a MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC who also holds a day job with accounting firm EY.

In his ruling today, Justice Chua Lee Ming said that there is no legal provision for the sitting MPs in a GRC to be compelled to vacate their seats in Parliament, when only one spot has been left empty in their GRC.

He disagreed with Peter Low, the lawyer representing the SDP, that that there was inconsistency between the Constitution and the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Low argued that if a by-election is not called, the Parliamentary Elections Act should be interpreted such that all MPs of the GRC have to leave their spots when one or more seats are left empty, or when no remaining MP is a minority candidate.

He cited Article 49(1) of the Constitution, which states that when “the seat of a Member… has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the vacancy shall be filled by election”.

But Justice Chua said that an “immediate hurdle” under such an interpretation would be that a by-election for the whole GRC team cannot be held unless the remaining MPs leave their seats.

He added that the circumstances under which a seat becomes vacant, and none of them apply to the remaining MPs in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

These circumstances include an MP losing or giving up his Singapore citizenship, or an MP leaving the political party which he had stood for in the election.

Justice Chua concluded that there is therefore no legal basis to require the rest of the MPs in the GRC to vacate their seats.

 

 

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