Court of Appeal dismisses Jeyaretnam's application to block Government's loan to IMF

Reform Party's (RP) Kenneth Jeyaretnam speaking to the press at Rivervale Plaza on Jan 15, 2013, to officially announce that he will be contesting the Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) by-election. The Court of Appeal has upheld the High
Reform Party's (RP) Kenneth Jeyaretnam speaking to the press at Rivervale Plaza on Jan 15, 2013, to officially announce that he will be contesting the Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) by-election. The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court's dismissal of Mr Jeyaretnam's application to stop the Government from giving a US$4 billion (S$5 billion) loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). -- ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM  

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court's dismissal of an opposition politician's application to stop the Government from giving a US$4 billion (S$5 billion) loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its grounds of decision, the apex court dismissed Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam's appeal with costs.

In April last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said it would make a loan commitment of US$4 billion. Mr Jeyaretnam tried to block it through court action in July. He argued that the loan commitment, made without the approval of Parliament or the President, contravened Article 144 of the Constitution. The Article states that "no guarantee or loan shall be given or raised by the Government except under the authority of any resolution of Parliament with which the President concurs".

But in October last year, Justice Tan Lee Meng ruled that the Government does not need such approval to give a loan. In court documents released on Oct31, Justice Chao Hick Tin said he agreed with the High Court judge's interpretation of Article 144. It was "abundantly clear" that Article 144 referred only to the giving of guarantees and raising of loans, and not the giving of loans, he added.

He observed that Mr Jeyaretnam was "clutching at any argument in order to bring the matter within Article 144", such as trying to draw a connection between the word "guarantee" and the loan commitment.

The Appeals Court also found that Mr Jeyaretnam did not have the standing to challenge Article 144, because he did not have any public or private rights to protect, and he had failed to show that the Government had in any way breached its duties under Article 144.