WP fails in second attempt to raise issue of reserved election in Parliament

The adjournment motion to speak on the presidential election filed by WP chairman Sylvia Lim was not selected for the coming Parliament sitting on Monday (Oct 2). PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) has failed again in its bid to raise the issue of the elected presidency in Parliament.

An adjournment motion, filed by WP chairman and Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, was not selected in a ballot for the coming Parliament sitting next Monday.

But she may still have a chance to speak on the topic if the House sits for a second day, as another ballot will be held.

In a Facebook post, the WP said Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Intan Azura Mokhtar and Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair had also vied for the 20-minute slot to speak, and Dr Intan's topic on preserving the heritage and green spaces in Jalan Kayu was chosen.

Mr Nair's topic is on national service.

The ballot on Tuesday (Sept 26) was conducted by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and witnessed by Ms Lim.

The Speaker said in a Facebook post later that both Ms Lim's and Mr Vikram's topics "rolled over from the last round", and that Dr Intan had freshly tabled her motion.

He added: "If we have two days of sitting, I'd draw from the remaining two and either Vikram's or Sylvia's will be chosen for Tuesday's sitting. This arrangement is as it has been for some time."

Parliament sits for more than one day when the legislature needs more time to debate Bills and pass laws.

This was Ms Lim's second time filing the motion "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question".

The first time was for the Sept 11 Parliament sitting, which was two days before Madam Halimah Yacob was declared President in a walkover at the presidential election.

Mr Nair and Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai had both also filed motions for that sitting, and Mr Murali's topic was picked.

WP Nominated MP Dennis Tan was present to witness the ballot.

Citing this, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin said: "Nothing odd or out of the ordinary was done either."

He added that both Mr Vikram's and Mr Murali's motions had been "rolled over from August".

The timing of the reserved election was the subject of a legal challenge mounted by former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock, who felt it should have happened in 2023 at the earliest.

An election is reserved for candidates from a community if five terms have passed without a president from that community.

The Government started its count from the second term of Mr Wee, and reserved the recent election for Malay candidates.

In August, the Court of Appeal found Parliament has the right to count from President Wee's term.

On Tuesday, Dr Tan said on Facebook that the Government had initially wanted to seek $30,000 in costs against him, but later changed its mind and consented to "no order as to costs".

He added that he had been warned against bringing the challenge to court by people who felt he would end up losing and paying "the Government thousands of dollars in legal fees".

But he said he went ahead as he was not satisfied with the Government's "dismissive attitude towards genuine answer-seekers like myself, and MP Sylvia Lim in Parliament".

"My legal team presented serious arguments, and ran our case responsibly without mud-slinging. Now Singaporeans know the issues better. Despite not succeeding, my application has secured some answers," he wrote.

He added that some questions remain unanswered and said he hoped Ms Lim gets a chance to raise them in Parliament.

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