Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to dismiss his legal challenge on the timing for the reserved presidential election will be heard on July 31.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (July 23), Dr Tan wrote that the hearing in the Court of Appeal will also be open for members of the public to attend.
“I look forward to a final judicial clarification on whether the Government had correctly picked President Wee (Kim Wee) as the first of five presidencies to trigger a Reserved Election for 2017,” he said.
After his legal challenge was dismissed on July 7, Dr Tan said his lawyers have advised that “the judge may have misconstrued the relevant constitutional provisions”, and proceeded to file an appeal to the apex court.
Dr Tan had earlier challenged the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) findings that Dr Wee was Singapore’s first elected President, which formed the basis for the Government to trigger a reserved election for Malay candidates for the coming polls in September.
After changes to the Elected Presidency scheme were passed, a reserved election will be triggered for a particular race that has not seen an elected representative for five consecutive terms.
The Government, on the advice of AGC, started counting the five terms from Dr Wee’s presidency. The late Dr Wee was the first President to exercise powers under the EP scheme, after it was introduced in 1991 while he was in office.
But Dr Tan said it was unconstitutional to start counting from Dr Wee’s term, and the Government should have started counting from the popularly-elected Mr Ong Teng Cheong instead, who succeeded Dr Wee. This would make it four terms since the Republic has had an elected Malay President.
Earlier this month, Justice Quentin Loh dismissed the appeal. He ruled that after amendments to the EP scheme were passed, Parliament was “entitled… to specify President Wee’s last term in office as the first term” of office of the President to be counted under the relevant article for a reserved election.
He found that “on a plain reading” of Article 164, Parliament is not limited to choosing a particular term of office of the President as the “first term”. There was also nothing in the text or textual context of Article 19B that limits Parliament’s power by requiring it to start the count from the term of office of a popularly-elected President, said the judge.
Dr Tan said on his Facebook page on Sunday that the legal case has allowed him “to express a different legal view”, adding: “The case will end on 31 July 2017. But it is good to let our conversation on these national issues continue.”