So Sylvia Lim moved an adjournment motion. One that was supposedly so important, it had displaced Vikram Nair’s motion on ‘the future of National Service”.
What did she say that was of such important public interest that hadn’t already been said in committees, courts and internet comments?
The gist of what her 20 minute speech was about was this: that the Government had “acted on the advice” of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Firstly, you must be wondering what’s wrong with the Government acting on the advice of the Attorney General Chambers. In fact, you must be wondering what on earth is the Attorney General Chambers.
Let’s put it this way: in the wonderful world of liberal politics, Parliament’s decision must be made by Parliament alone. Parliament in turn seeks the views of the people through committees, conferences, consultations and so on.
By accusing the Government of acting on the advice of the AGC, is akin to saying the Government did not seek the advice of the people.
Which is utter rubbish. It is open and plain to see that public discussion had been extensive.
Sylvia Lim referred to a statement that the Prime Minister made on the 8th of November. He said “We have taken the Attorney-General’s advice. We will start counting from the first President who exercised the powers of the Elected President, in other words, Dr Wee Kim Wee.”
Because of this, Sylvia concludes that it was a “clear impression” that the Government’s decision was based on the AGC’s advice.
This was a complete mischaracterisation of the circumstance.
The Attorney General’s Chambers is the Government’s lawyer. Should the Government have a question of law, it seeks the advice of the AGC.
It is one thing to clarify a point of law with the AGC and it is another matter altogether to act on the words of the AGC.
Shanmuggam himself had addressed the matter, but it really doesn’t take a Minister of Law to help us understand that it is Parliament and elected representatives, together with committees and constituents that formed the changes to the office of Elected President.
Sylvia Lim ought to know this and if she doesn’t, well perhaps then she doesn’t know the law.