DR TAN CHENG BOCK: I would like to announce that this morning, the High Court accepted my application (HC/OS 495/2017), which seeks the Court’s determination on whether a piece of legislation (section 22 Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act 6 of 2017 which counted President Wee Kim Wee as the first Elected Presidency term for the purposes of calling a Reserved Election), is consistent with our Constitution (Articles 19B(1) and 164(1) which introduced the mechanism of a Reserved Election into our Constitution).
I am the Plaintiff and for the purposes of serving Court papers on the Government, the Defendant is the Attorney General.
The application was filed on 5 May 2017. The Court accepted my application this morning, and has fixed a pre-trial conference on 22 May 2017.
To recap, on 31 March 2017, I held a press conference explaining why in my layman’s opinion, starting the count from President Wee’s term appeared to be inconsistent with the spirit and purpose for reserved elections. I then invited the Government or AG to explain the legal reasons for their count.
On 1 April 2017 the Government through MCI said I raised no new points that require a response. I responded to say the MCI missed my point. Nothing further was heard on this issue.
Since this is a matter of national importance, I sought to find the legal answer and consulted the best constitutional lawyer I could find. He is Queen’s Counsel Lord David Pannick. I gave Lord Pannick the Commission Report, White Paper, all relevant Hansard parliamentary reports from 7 Nov 2016 to 6 February 2017, our Constitution and all related statutes on this issue. I asked him one question: whether the AG correctly advised the Government to specify President Wee’s term as the first to be counted on the basis that he was the first President to exercise elected powers.
Lord Pannick has advised that he disagrees with the AG’s advice, and that section 22 Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act 6 of 2017 as it stands is unconstitutional. After receiving Lord Pannick’s reply, I felt I could not keep his legal opinion to myself. It would be in public interest to have the Court decide which legal view is correct – Lord Pannick or the AG.
On 28 April 2017, I engaged M/s Tan, Rajah & Cheah to make the necessary application, and to produce in my affidavit Lord Pannick’s written opinion before the Court. I believe this question can be answered without confrontation or hostility. Both the Government and I have the nation’s best interest at heart. It is in nobody’s interest to have a Reserved Election that is unconstitutional.
I am satisfied that I have, to the best of my ability and capacity, done my part to do what is right in the circumstances, which is to bring to this Court’s attention Lord Pannick’s opinion. Since the matter is now before the Court, it is only right that I refrain from making any further public comment until this case is decided.