M. Ravi files constitutional challenge against elected presidency changes

Lawyer M. Ravi, of the Reform Party (RP) speaking at the RP rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Sept, 4, 2015  as a candidate for the Ang Mo Kio GRC.
Lawyer M. Ravi, of the Reform Party (RP) speaking at the RP rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Sept, 4, 2015 as a candidate for the Ang Mo Kio GRC.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Human rights lawyer M. Ravi filed a constitutional challenge on Monday (May 22) against changes to the elected presidency made last year.

Mr Ravi said in a post on his Facebook page that he filed the challenge at the High Court in his capacity as a private citizen, and that the originating summons has been served on the Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General's Chambers told The Straits Times it "will study the papers".

Filing an originating summons, or application, is the first step towards legal action.

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This is the second legal challenge related to the elected presidency mounted in May, after an earlier one filed by former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock.

Last November, Parliament passed changes to the Constitution to update the elected presidency and ensure it reflects Singapore's multiracial society.

 

The changes introduced a provision for presidential elections to be reserved for candidates from a racial group that has not been represented in the office for five continuous terms.

 

Dr Tan's legal challenge questions whether the timing of the reserved election is consistent with constitutional amendments to the elected presidency.

The pre-trial conference for his case, which also took place on the same day Mr Ravi filed his challenge, yielded a likely court date of late June for the hearing.

Unlike Dr Tan, Mr Ravi questions the constitutional amendments themselves on two grounds, according to the originating summons which he posted on Facebook.

First, he argues that elements of the elected presidency deprive citizens of their right to stand for public office.

Second, he argues that the elected presidency discriminates on the grounds of ethnicity.

As such, he believes that the elected presidency is not consistent with Article 12(2) of the Constitution.

Article 12(2) states that unless expressly authorised by the Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against Singapore citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law, or in the appointment to any office, or employment under a public authority.