Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim (by a stroke of good luck), has finally managed to pass her motion on the Elected Presidency.
(Photo Credit: Straits Times)
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin announced yesterday that Ms Lim’s motion was picked during a ballot.
But here’s the thing, while whatever Ms Lim raised in her adjournment motion was not new, what was interesting was Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam responding to her motion.
And watching it on the news, it was almost like a court room sparring session between the two legal eagles (well, almost…).
(Photo Credit: Channel NewsAsia)
Here are Minister Shanmugam’s points:
1. Government clear and upfront on objectives of hiatus-triggered reserved elections framework
Racial differences are natural fault lines as quoted by Minister Shanmugam, from the 2016 Government’s White Paper on the Constitutional Commission to review the Elected Presidency system.
“When the Prime Minister announced that he would appoint a Constitutional Commission to review the Elected Presidency system, he said that the President is the Head of State and he represents all Singaporeans in our multi-racial society. As such, it is “important that minorities have a chance to be elected President, and that this happens regularly.””
2. how and When to start counting is a policy matter for Parliament to decide.
Minister Shanmugam reiterated the point that the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s(AGC) advice was that “it was ultimately for Parliament to decide how to count and when to start counting”.
At a dialogue session after the White Paper was released, he also said that it is “a policy decision” for the Government to decide.
3. why didn’t Wp challenge agc’s advice judicially?
Recounting the debate on the constitutional amendments in November last year, Minister Shanmugam said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had invited Ms Lim to challenge the AGC’s advice judicially if she thought that it was not the correct advice. However, WP did not challenge it, and Dr Tan Cheng Bock did. The Court of Appeal had at that point, confirmed that it was for Parliament to decide from any of the 5 terms before the 2017 elections.
Minister Shanmugam ended his reply with a question, and it is probably the question on many people’s minds as well: why didn’t she (Ms Sylvia Lim) read the judgement by the Court of Appeal?
Or was she, in a way, misleading parliament?
Anyway, here’s a clip of the sparring of legal eagles.