SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Wednesday (Sep 13) said it has filed a lawsuit in the High Court challenging the Government’s decision not to hold a by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
It argued that it is "incumbent upon the Government" to call for a by-election, after a seat in the four-member GRC fell vacant last month when Mdm Halimah Yacob resigned as its Member of Parliament to run for President. As the only candidate to qualify for the election, she was declared President-elect on Wednesday after her nomination papers were found to be in order.
The three remaining MPs of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC - Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong as well as Mr Ong Teng Koon and Mr Alex Yam – have said they will take turns to cover Mdm Halimah’s meet-the-people sessions in the Marsiling ward.
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, an MP from Chua Chu Kang GRC, has also been appointed as adviser to grassroots organisations in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.
In a statement, the SDP cited an article in the Constitution which states that whenever the seat of an MP becomes vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, “the vacancy shall be filled by election in the manner provided by or under any law relating to Parliamentary elections for the time being in force.”
The SDP added: “It was the PAP that mandated that each GRC include at least one candidate from a predetermined minority race. But the same party is also the one who has arbitrarily decided that if that minority member resigns, there is no need to replace him or her in a by-election.”
In February, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing had said in Parliament that a by-election will not be called, should a minority MP leave his or her GRC.
Responding to a question by Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh, Mr Chan said this is because it would not affect the key goals of having a GRC system, which include ensuring that there are enough minority members in the House.
Mr Chan also noted that one fewer minority MP would still mean 27 per cent of Parliament is made up of minority MPs, which is “more than what you’d expect proportionately from adding up the percentage of Malays, Indians and other minorities”.
The SDP said it has engaged lawyers from Peter Low & Choo LLC as counsel and that a pre-trial conference has been set for Oct 9.
“Even though it (PAP) won the last elections and forms the Government, it cannot and must not be allowed to do as it pleases without any check from the opposition,” said the SDP.