SDP pulls out but by-election lawsuit to go on

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has pulled out of a legal challenge to get the Government to call a by-election in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, but the lawsuit will still proceed.

Announcing this on its website yesterday, the opposition party said it was pulling out as the Attorney-General (A-G) had objected to it being part of the legal action. But it added that the withdrawal did not stop the legal action, as the lawsuit was brought in the High Court jointly with its former chairman Wong Souk Yee. Dr Wong, a resident in the GRC, will continue as the sole plaintiff in the lawsuit.

At a pre-trial conference yesterday, the High Court set aside half a day on Jan 15 next year to hear the legal challenge.

The four-member Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC was left with three MPs after Madam Halimah Yacob resigned to run in the September presidential election, which she won in a walkover.

The SDP has said the decision by the People's Action Party (PAP) not to call a by-election when a seat is vacated in a GRC is unconstitutional.

In its statement, it said the A-G had argued that the party had no standing in the issue.

A person or entity bringing up a case in court has to have a legal right to do so, by virtue of having sufficient connection to the issue.

The SDP said it decided to withdraw, instead of fighting the A-G's objection, "in order not to complicate the proceedings and hold up the process".

"The withdrawal does not change the essence of the legal action. Our position is the PAP must abide by the Constitution and the spirit of democracy by ensuring that an MP who vacates his or her seat be replaced by another MP through a by-election."

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, an MP from neighbouring Chua Chu Kang GRC, has been tasked to help grassroots organisations in Marsiling. The three remaining Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MPs have said they will collectively take care of the residents in Marsiling ward.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'SDP pulls out but by-election lawsuit to go on'. Subscribe