Workers' Party makes second attempt to raise topic of reserved election in Parliament

WP chairman Sylvia Lim has filed an adjournment motion to speak on the presidential election, the party announced on Sept 19, 2017. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) is making a second bid to raise the issue of the elected presidency in Parliament.

Its chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, has filed an adjournment motion to speak for up to 20 minutes on the timing of the recently concluded reserved presidential election.

This comes after her adjournment motion on the same topic, filed for the Sept 11 Parliament sitting, was not picked in a ballot.

The sitting ended up being two days before Madam Halimah Yacob was elected unopposed in this year's presidential election. She was inaugurated as President on Thursday.

Ms Lim's adjournment motion is titled "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question?".

It has to do with when the Government should have started the count of the five presidential terms of office needed to trigger a reserved election.

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

If Ms Lim's adjournment motion is accepted, she will deliver her speech when Parliament next sits on Oct 2.

Madam Halimah's election in a walkover has sparked criticism by some people who said they were disappointed they did not get to vote.

A silent protest was held on Saturday at Hong Lim Park against the presidential election reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

Madam Halimah was the only candidate who qualified to run for the office. Two others, businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, were not eligible as their companies fell far short of the $500 million shareholder equity threshold spelt out in the Constitution.

The WP said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Sept 19) that should there be competing bids from other MPs to speak on other topics during the Oct 2 Parliament sitting, a ballot will be conducted according to the procedural rules of Parliament.

It added that the ballot will likely be held on Sept 26.

After Ms Lim filed the adjournment motion the first time, two other MPs also filed adjournment motions to speak on other issues, and Ms Lim was not picked in the random ballot.

Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai ended up speaking on "Community Sentencing and Other Rehabilitative Options" on Sept 11.

The timing of the reserved election was the subject of a legal challenge mounted by former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock. In August, the Court of Appeal found that Parliament has the right to count from President Wee's term.

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