Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair said that the High Court could hear former presidential candidate，Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s legal challenge regarding the upcoming Malay-only presidential election in late June, at the pre-trial conference at the High Court on Monday (22 May).
The conference was also attended by Dr Tan’s counsel Chelva Retnam Rajah. However, Dr Tan was not present at Monday’s pre-trial conference.
Reporters heard from both parties that the court also gave direction for the filing of further affidavits.
Earlier this month, Dr Tan has officially announced that the High Court has accepted his application to seek the Court’s determination on whether the piece of legislation – that counts President Wee Kim Wee as the first Elected Presidency term for the purposes of calling the upcoming election a reserved election – is consistent with Singapore’s constitution.
The next presidential election is due to be held in September this year. However, under the recent amendments, a reserved election is set aside by the government for a minority race as no candidate from a particular minority group has been elected as the President after five open elections.
In an earlier press conference on 31 March, Dr Tan urge the Government to explain or refer AGC’s opinion to Court to confirm whether AGC’s advice is in sync with the Commission’s spirit and purpose for having reserved elections.
The government has said that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) advised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that 2017 will be the first reserved election. This is based on AGC counting 5 consecutive presidential terms beginning with President Wee Kim Wee.
However, Dr Tan stated that the count should start with Mr Ong Teng Cheong, which would make it four terms since the Republic has had an elected President. Therefore, he stressed that the upcoming presidential polls should be an open election.
Dr Tan also questioned whether AGC’s method of counting is actually in line with the spirit and purpose put forward by the Constitutional Commission for having a reserved election.
Dr Tan who nearly won the election from the People’s Action Party endorsed candidate, Dr Tony Tan back in 2011, losing a mere 0.34% after a recount, also said that if the Government simply accepts AGC’s advice without explaining why they accepted the accuracy of the opinion, he is concerned that the Elected Presidency will always be tainted with the suspicion that the reserved elections of 2017, was introduced to prevent his candidacy.