WP makes second attempt to raise topic of reserved election in Parliament

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

Barely a week after Madam Halimah Yacob was sworn in as Singapore's eighth President, Ms Sylvia Lim has filed an adjournment motion to speak on the timing of the reserved presidential election during the Oct 2 Parliament sitting.

The WP chairman had wanted to raise the issue during the Sept 11 Parliament sitting, but her motion was not picked in a ballot.Two days after the sitting, Madam Halimah was declared the winner in a walkover at the presidential election.

Ms Lim's motion has to do with the Government's count of the five presidential terms required to trigger a reserved election.

It is titled "Counting from President Wee Kim Wee or President Ong Teng Cheong for Reserved Presidential Election - Policy Decision or Legal Question?"

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 recently concluded presidential election for Malay candidates.

If her motion is accepted, Ms Lim will get to speak on the topic for up to 20 minutes.

The presidential election, which ended in the walkover, has sparked criticism by some people who said they were disappointed they did not get to vote.

Madam Halimah was the only candidate deemed eligible to contest by the Presidential Elections Committee. Two others, businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, were disqualified as they fell far short of the criterion of having run companies with at least $500 million in shareholder equity.

The WP said in a Facebook post yesterday that a ballot will likely be held on Sept 26, according to Parliament rules, if other MPs also file adjournment motions to speak on other topics.

After Ms Lim filed her adjournment motion the first time, two other MPs filed adjournment motions to speak on other issues. Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai's motion on community sentencing was picked.

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 Parliament has the right to count from President Wee's term.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'WP makes second attempt to raise topic of reserved election in Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe