Tan Cheng Bock applies to High Court for clarification on upcoming Presidential Election

Tan Cheng Bock applies to High Court for clarification on upcoming Presidential Election

tan cheng bock afp
File photo of Dr Tan Cheng Bock. (Photo: AFP)

SINGAPORE: Former presidential hopeful Tan Cheng Bock said on Monday (May 8) that the High Court has accepted his application questioning the basis of the upcoming reserved Presidential Election.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Dr Tan said that he had filed an application last Friday to seek the Court's determination on whether a piece of legislation counting President Wee Kim Wee as the first elected president for the purposes of the upcoming reserved election was consistent with the Constitution.

A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed Dr Tan's filing on matters relating to Section 22 of the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act 2017.

Dr Tan had in March this year called on the Government to make the upcoming Presidential Election an open election, asking if it was correct to make it a reserved one.

Changes to the Constitution passed last November mean that if there is no President from a particular racial community for five consecutive terms, the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.

In light of these changes, the next election - to be held in September this year - will be reserved for Malay candidates, precluding Dr Tan from running.

Dr Tan had earlier said that the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had advised the Prime Minister to start counting the five terms from President Wee Kim Wee - who served one term from 1985 to 1993 - in looking at the new electoral process.

This means that - taking Dr Wee's term as the first counted - as none of the subsequent elected Presidents have been Malay, the next Presidential Election should be reserved for a Malay candidate.

However, Dr Tan argued that the counting should begin from Mr Ong Teng Cheong's term from 1993 to 1999, instead of Dr Wee's.

He noted Queen's Counsel David Pannick's disagreement with the Attorney-General's advice that President Wee's term should be counted as the first Elected Presidency. "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," said Dr Tan on Monday.

"I believe this question can be answered without confrontation or hostility," he added. "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."

He added that since the matter was now before the Court, "it is only right" that he refrain from further public comment until the case is decided.

A pre-trial conference has been fixed for May 22, said Dr Tan. 

Source: CNA/nc