Thursday, February 16, 2012
No By-election = Hougang Singaporeans not important?
Not having a timely by-election sends a negative message to Hougang residents
Author's note (19.2.12): This letter was published in Straits Times Forum ( Online) here
All of Singapore is acutely aware of the vacant seat in Hougang now that Mr. Yaw Shin Leong (formerly of WP) is no longer its elected MP. Although the law states that a by-election must be held when an MP has vacated his seat, it does not spell out when the Prime Minister must call the by-election.
However experts on constitutional law say that if no timeframe is stipulated, it should be interpreted as “ with all convenient speed” and SMU assistant law professor (Nominated MP) Eugene Tan, has quoted “three months” as a reasonable period.
Unfortunately on several occasions including two in 1986, single seats were left vacant for close to 2 years and by-elections were not held and replacement MP’s were elected only in the next general elections!
All of us understand that there are always important matters of state that require our politicians’ full attention. It will be the national budget this week; the MRT inquiry in March or the Greek crisis and of course the US Presidential elections in November.
But how about Hougang’s residents?
Not to have a by-election in a timely manner or worse, not having an election till the next GE (possibly in 4 years’ time) would not just seem to disingenuously breach the spirit of the by-election act but will also signal to Hougang residents that their right to have an elected MP speak up for them in Parliament is unimportant. It is to take 23000 Singaporeans for granted!
We need assurance that a by-election for the vacant seat in Hougang SMC would be held at the soonest possible time after our very important budget.
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan