Tan Cheng Bock Appeals: Judge May Have Misconstrued Constitutional Provisions

Former presidential election runner-up Dr Tan Cheng Bock has filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal contesting the decision by the High Court to dismiss his application contesting the legitimacy of this year’s Presidential Election.

Dr Tan’s previous application was turned down last Friday by Justice Quentin Loh, meaning PE2017 will be reserved for Malay candidates only if this appeal fails to overturn that judgment.

In a statement, Dr Tan said:

“After studying the reasons given by the Court and reading the official Court transcripts, my lawyers have advised that the Judge may have misconstrued the relevant Constitutional provisions. I have therefore filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal (CA No. 124 of 2017) to review the Court decision. I will leave it to my lawyers to submit the relevant legal arguments.

The appeal is likely to be heard on the week of 25 July 2017. The Court of Appeal will sit in open court. The appeal timelines were agreed beforehand between the AG and ourselves so that the case will not affect the Presidential elections in September 2017. I also appreciate the fact that Justice Loh and the High Court have done everything possible to enable this case to be heard swiftly.

I am heartened that many Singaporeans are taking a healthy interest in the law-making process and the Constitution as a result of this case. These are important things for us and our children to know. We must never take these institutions for granted.”

He announced his intention to run in PE2017 in March 2016, but could not meet the requirements after the government amended the Constitution in November 2016.

The amendments raised the eligibility criteria for candidates, and reserved PE2017 for Malay candidates only under new rules that if there is no president from a particular racial community for five consecutive terms, the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.

Dr Tan is contesting the counting of “five consecutive terms”.

He claims that this should start from the President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s first president to win in an open election.

However, the government ruled that the President before him, Dr Wee Kim Wee, should be counted as the first elected president despite Dr Wee having been appointed to the post.

The move has caused confusion, since government records, including a letter from former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, also hail Mr Ong as Singapore’s first elected president.




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