My suspicion that Singapore isn't and never was, a democratic society at all has been proven by a learned judge today. I am so happy that these mysterious doubts in my head have finally been cleared and solved. I have to thank this learned judge for his great effort in helping me to confirm that our Constitution wasn't really written with true democratic principles in mind. Let me elaborate here.
According to Todayonline report, the presiding judge of the Hougang By-Election case, Justice Philip Pillai, has declared that
"there was no requirement in the Constitution to call elections to fill elected Member vacancies. There being no such requirement, there arises no prescribed time within which such elections must be called".
He further elaborates that
Under the Constitution, to call or not to call an election to fill an elected Member vacancy is a decision to be made by the Prime Minister. Should the Prime Minister decide to call an election to fill an elected Member vacancy. The Parliamentary Elections Act merely provides the mechanism to hold such an election should the Prime Minister decide to call one.
Let me put it in simple words. The learned judge is basically saying that our previous "perceptions" that the government "must" hold a by-election if any parliamentary seat is vacated, is awfully and utterly wrong and rubbish! He is saying that there is absolutely NOTHING in our Constitution that says the government of the day MUST call for by-election under any circumstances! And he is basically saying that it is ALL UP TO the Prime Minister to decide on whether to call for by-elections or not. No other people, including the President, can make that decision! Well, never mind about what the Article 49 says "shall be filled by election ". "Shall" doesn't mean "MUST"! That is, in Singlish (Singapore English lingo), Bo Ba Ke!
Article 49 Filing of Vacancies
(1) Whenever the seat of a Member, not being a non-constituency Member, has become 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.
(2) The Legislature may by law provide for
(a) the vacating of a seat of a non-constituency Member in circumstances other than those specified in Article 46;
(b) the filling of vacancies of the seats of non-constituency Members where such vacancies are caused otherwise than by a dissolution of Parliament.
This means that the Prime Minister has all the power in Singapore, to decide on his very own, whether to call for By-Elections or not. He is the CHOSEN ONE with the only POWER to do that. Even the parliament cannot force him to do anything if he just doesn't feel like it. Well, doesn't that sound like a dictatorial style kind of Constitutional Empowerment? YES! ABSOLUTELY!
Many other people, even those so call "Constitutional Experts" like Assistant Professor Jack Lee, NMP Eugene Tan, Professor Thio Li-ann, Professor Kevin Tan, ex-NMP Siew Kum Hong etc are ALL WRONG! They thought that it is legally binding that the PM must call for by-elections within a stipulated time. They were all WRONG in arguing on whether the PM must call for by-election within the time frame or not! They didn't know or realize that the Constitution wasn't written with such Democratic principles in mind at all in the very first place!
How could we consider the Constitution to be written with such Democratic principles when the power was empowered to ONE MOST IMPORTANT person to decide on such electoral matters? There wasn't any "RULE" written in Constitution to enforce proper representation of the people at all. Imagine, if a rogue government has been voted in and it started to round up all its opponents and put them behind bars for donkey years, it doesn't need to call for any by-elections at all because the Constitution doesn't say so! Never mind about whether the constituents who voted in those opposition MPs being ROBBED of their voices in parliament or not because, the PM just don't like to hold by-elections! So, the parliament could carry on to rubber stamp anything, everything under the sun; they could even change the Constitution to be written exactly like the ones communist countries have! They could even change Singapore's name to "People's Republic of Singapore"!
When the Constitution doesn't put much weight, stress and respect to the democratic idea of "people's representation" through fair and just universal suffrage or elections, could it be considered as a Constitution written with Democratic principles?
All these years, I have difficulties in convincing many people that Singapore isn't really set to be a democratic country at all but they just simply point to our National Pledge. Hey, how many people would bother to understand what our Constitution says? Well, the Americans might have been taught about their four pages of Constitution or "Charters of Freedom" as "National Education", but we are only taught about how good PAP is in our school's National Education! Nothing about our Constitution at all! Least about what Democracy means to us! I can't blame them because I can hardly remember our Constitution as well!
Well, even when PAP starts to berate the simple National Pledge as full of "Highfalutin Ideas", Singaporeans I have met still insist that we are "Democratic country". Never mind if we score so low in Press Freedom or Political Freedom or being labelled "ill-democratic"... They say we have elections, never mind about whether GRC is fair or not...In fact, our Main Stream Media have "well established writers" who constantly write about Democracy is bad! (Read Zaobao Forum)
I felt so depressed sometimes because so many people thought I am MAD to say that Singapore isn't really built on democratic principles and we are not tailored to be a democracy at all. I finally find solace and feel vindicated by the learned judge's, Justice Philip Pillai, public verdict on this matter.
I feel that it would be even convincing for others to believe me if someone could go to the court again and claim that the PM could actually APPOINT any persons to take over the parliamentary seats which are vacated in any circumstances! The judge could finally put to rest on any doubts about whether Singapore is written with Democracy in mind by giving the rightful judgement that since the Constitution is silent about it and didn't deny the PM of such power of appointment, the PM can just make such appointment! This does not contravene any Constitutional rules and it is in fact consistent with what the Constitution has been empowering the government, of appointing NMPs or NCMPs (who are losers in GE) into parliament! Never mind if NMPs have any basis of constituents' support, just forget about that Highfalutin Democratic idea of representation, just appoint. If the government can appoint anyone without a single constituent's support or vote into parliament, what's wrong for the PM to appoint any one to take over the vacated parliamentary seat? Anything is possible as long as the Constitution didn't state anything about it!
(After Note: Some of my friends questioned me about this point about the legitimacy of having PM appointing any individual to take over any vacated seat. I just told them, our learned judge has written his judgement and verdict based on something which is not written in the Constitution, not something that was written in the Constitution! Thus, I am very confident that our learned judge would also use this argument that anything that is NOT written in the Constitution could be viewed as legitimate! Thus, those who don't agree are those who don't really understand how our legal system works! Just like those Constitutional experts who have gotten all their reasoning wrong because they have blatantly ignore this good practice of our law! )
In fact, PAP has already exercised such idea! Any seats vacated in any GRC, they don't need to go for by-elections, never mind if the constituents of that vacated seat has lost their representative and voice in parliament or not. PAP can just appoint the rest of the MPs in that GRC to take care of his ward, represent his constituents... no need by-election what! This is just short of appointing a non-MP to take over his place!
Well, to further into the logical argument, if they can do that for GRC, why can't they do it to SMC as well? Even if it is an opposition ward, never mind. Just as long as PAP PM APPOINTS a PAP MP to "take care" of this ward, as long as someone can go to the ward and sit down, listen to the constituents' problems and write letters for them, problem solved! Well, even if PM wants to exercise his power further, he could have just appointed the PAP candidate who have lost in that opposition ward to stand in as MP! Why not? All matters are about weekly writing letters sessions! The MPS, meet the people sessions!
In short, my fellow Singaporeans, please wake up and stop your democratic dreams! It must be very clear to all of us now that the learned judge has just basically confirmed that the Constitution has given the PM FULL POWER to dictate on such electoral matters, aka by-elections. The Constitution WASN'T supposed to be written to enhance Democracy as we have foolishly misled ourselves by reciting the pledge with those highfalutin ideas! No matter how hard you dream, the truth has already been revealed and confirmed. Please remember, PAP has all along given all the hints about the TRUE Singapore; it is not our right to vote but just a privilege given by PAP. A privilege that could possibly be taken away from us. Our National Pledge is just full of Highfalutin Ideas which are never meant to be achieved.
We should be prepared, fully be prepared for the day, as I have mentioned, for the possibility to be renamed as People's Republic of Singapore. That would be a name that truly represent what Singapore is.
We will be celebrating our National Day in one week's time. May be it would be a good time to reflect on the REALITY that is brought on by this very important verdict by the learned judge. May be we should pause a while and think whether we should continue to recite that Highfalutin National Pledge after we are awaken to the fact that the very fundamental of our Nation's existence, the Constitution, isn't exactly written with much Democratic principles in mind.
Goh Meng Seng
Hougang resident's by-election application dismissed by High Court Judge
Updated 03:25 PM Aug 01, 2012
SINGAPORE - A High Court Judge has dismissed a Hougang resident's application to declare that the Prime Minister does not have "unfettered discretion" over whether and when to call a by-election.
Madam Vellama Marie Muthu had also applied for a mandatory order for the by-election to be called in Hougang within three months or a reasonable time, after the seat was vacated.
Mdm Vellama, 42, a part-time cleaner, had filed her application on March 2, following the sacking of former Member of Parliament Yaw Shin Leong from the Workers' Party on Feb 15.
In his judgment released today, Justice Philip Pillai noted there was no requirement in the Constitution to call elections to fill elected Member vacancies. There being no such requirement, there arises no prescribed time within which such elections must be called, he added.
Under the Constitution, to call or not to call an election to fill an elected Member vacancy is a decision to be made by the Prime Minister, said Justice Pillai. Should the Prime Minister decide to call an election to fill an elected Member vacancy, he has a discretion as to when to call it, he added.
The Parliamentary Elections Act merely provides the mechanism to hold such an election should the Prime Minister decide to call one, said Justice Pillai. In the event that the Prime Minister decides to call an election to fill an elected Member vacancy, section 24 of the Parliamentary Elections Act requires that the President issue writs under the public seal to the Returning Officer to convene such election to supply vacancies caused by death, resignation or otherwise. "In so doing, the President is obliged to act in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution," he added.