If not now, then when?
The Workers’ Party had intended to raise the “counting of presidents” issue in parliament on Monday (11 Sept).
This would have been a relevant discussion, considering that Singapore is set for Nomination Day on 13 Sept and Singaporeans will elect their next President on 23 Sept.
However, parliamentarians chose to scupper debate on the validity of the PE2017 reserved election, in favour of discussing namely “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options”.
In a statement today, the WP said that it’s motion on motion “Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election – Policy Decision or Legal Question” has been moved to a later date.
This, after parliamentarians voted in a ballot on the “community Sentencing” motion filed by Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai.
Said the WP:
“On 30th August Parliament notified MPs that there were two other adjournment motions filed on 29th August, namely “Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options” by Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) and “The Future of National Service” by Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang). MPs were further advised that the adjournment motions filed would be subject to ballot under Standing Order 2(8)(d).
We wish to inform everyone that at the ballot conducted today, the topic by Mr Murali Pillai was picked. Accordingly, Ms Sylvia Lim would not be able to speak on her adjournment motion on 11th September.”
If you’re wondering what this whole “counting motion” is about:
In sum, the government put it to a vote in parliament to change the constitution in Nov 2016 to make PE2017 an election reserved for Malay candidates only.
With PAP MPs throwing their weight behind this, the bill was passed into law (they form the majority of parliament).
PM Lee then announced that acting on the AGC’s advice, Appointed President Wee Kim Wee was considered Singapore’s first Elected President as he had exercised the powers of an Elected President in his 2nd term of office.
This, despite his successor Ong Teng Cheong being Singapore’s first president to be elected in an open election.
The WP’s motion is essentially to ask in parliament who gets to decide which president is Singapore’s first elected president.
Because, you know, national records all say that Mr Ong is Singapore’s first elected president, which would mean that the reserved election would take place during the next Presidential Election and not PE2017.