The Straits Times
Published on Dec 21, 2012

Why by-election should be called immediately


AFTER the Punggol East parliamentary seat was vacated recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the Constitution does not require him to call a by-election in the Single Member Constituency within any fixed timeframe ("PM to 'carefully consider' by-election"; Dec 13).

The essence of a democracy is having a say in how one is governed.

How will residents in Punggol East have a say in how they are governed if there is no one in Parliament to vote on their behalf?

A substitute MP cannot vote on behalf of the residents as he is not their elected representative.

The Prime Minister should call a by-election for Punggol East as soon as possible. Otherwise, he will be denying the residents of their right to be represented in Parliament.

Since the Constitution does not specify when a by-election should be called, it is flawed and this flaw should be corrected.

The Constitution should protect the citizen's right to be represented in Parliament by stipulating a period by which a by-election must be called.

Phua Kok Hee