Thursday, May 04, 2006

This is what I called giving PAP a blank check.

PAP doesn't seem to respect the laws that it wrote.

And why am I not surprise?

Or is Mr Yeo and Mr Lee trying to disqualify WP in this way?

PAP, please "COME CLEAN"!

From ST:

May 4, 2006
Polls to proceed even if one Aljunied candidate is dropped: Elections Dept
By Sue-Ann Chia
THE Elections Department yesterday said the election in Aljunied GRC will proceed as scheduled even if Mr James Gomez is dropped from the Workers' Party's (WP) slate.

Constitutional lawyers, however, say that as the law stands, no party can contest a five-man GRC with a four-man team.

Both the experts and the department agree on one thing: the outcome of such a contest can be challenged in the courts.

They were responding to suggestions by People's Action Party (PAP) ministers that the WP withdraw Mr Gomez as a candidate because of his conduct at the Elections Department over his forms.

At a rally on Tuesday, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew described Mr Gomez as a liar and a liability to the WP, before adding: 'They are left with four candidates, the election goes on, the election is not cancelled.'

Mr George Yeo, the anchor minister for PAP's Aljunied GRC team, also urged the WP to 'do the right thing', saying: 'If, say, the PAP team in Aljunied, something has happened to one of us, the rest of us will still carry on. The election will continue. It will be a team of four versus a team of five, but it doesn't matter.'

He repeated the call yesterday.

The PAP leaders' comments set the legal fraternity abuzz with questions.

One, can a candidate be withdrawn after Nomination Day?

Two, can the election proceed with a four-man team contesting in a five-man GRC?

Three, will the election results be considered void in such a situation or subject to challenge?

The Elections Department, which is under the Prime Minister's Office, yesterday issued a statement noting that the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) makes no mention about the effect of a withdrawal of a candidate on a GRC team between Nomination Day and Polling Day.

Hence, the Returning Officer has no authority to call off the election or declare the opposing team the winner in the event of such a situation.

'The poll for Aljunied GRC will have to proceed as scheduled,' said the department.

On whether a four-man team can contest a five-man GRC, the department said the PEA does not expressly confer power on the Returning Officer to restart the election.

But whether the outcome of the poll can be set aside on the basis that the election is not in accordance with the law will have to be decided by the courts, it added.

The legal experts interpret the law differently.

The lawyers interviewed refer to Section 22(2) of the PEA. It states that each group representation constituency (GRC) shall return the designated number of members to serve in Parliament for that constituency.

For Aljunied GRC, it is stipulated that it is a five-member constituency.

'That means you need to return five members, not four,' said Assistant Professor Eugene Tan, a law lecturer at Singapore Management University.

Constitutional law expert Thio Li-Ann added: 'The fixing of the size of GRC teams is not a matter of discretion; it is a clear and fixed rule which is to be adhered to.'

Therefore, the WP's nomination for its Aljunied GRC slate is 'void' if the party withdraws a candidate during the campaign period and the President does not stipulate a revised group number for that constituency, said National University of Singapore law lecturer Yvonne Lee.

'Consequently, there is no lawful election, and a walkover in substance materialises,' she said.

Dr Thio, also an NUS law professor, referred to Section 32(1) of the PEA which states that a candidate can be withdrawn before noon on Nomination Day, but not afterwards.

'It seems self-explanatory that names cannot be withdrawn, and if the WP puts up a four-man team, this is an irregularity which can be judicially challenged,' she noted.

Who can mount a challenge? Under Sections 93 and 94, voters and candidates of the GRC can apply to the Supreme Court. They can apply, among other things, to declare the election void or that the return of the person elected was improper.

The reasons could include non-compliance of rules or a corrupt or illegal practice related to the polls. The application must be made within 21 days of the election.


At 8:10 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Its called entrapment.

George Yeo is trying to bait Low Thia Kiang into abandoning Gomez, hence losing the whole elections altogether.

From this instance, everyone should be clear by now how desperate the ruling incumbent is to win Aljunied. By hook or by crook, dead or alive. No questions asked.

At 11:48 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi beast:


At 12:23 AM, May 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite scary; that a Minister who was once a lawyer, and a minister who negotiates treaties for a living should reach a legal interpretation quite different from the legal experts. The elections department's view - I don't know if they consulted any legal experts, after all, they've been pretty busy reviewing CCTV footage and could be have been distracted. So, I'm going to assume it's an internal ad hoc view rather than a considered one. I'm sure our ministers are genuinely mistaken rather than trying to mislead us and the Elections Department on the correct interpretation of law since they are men of integrity, so to avoid misunderstanding (and being called to account by the WP in a tit-for-tat move) perhaps they should apologise to the public and the Elections Department for the mistake.


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