In Parliament yesterday (25 Mar), Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean pointed out that it is unconstitutional to delay elections in the absence of a state of emergency.

Former presidential candidate and Progress Singapore Party chief Dr Tan Cheng Bock has earlier opined that the upcoming General Election (GE) could be delayed in view of the present COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. He suggested delaying GE in the event that the COVID-19 situation in Singapore does not ease by Apr 2021, which is the deadline for Singapore to hold the next GE.

Teo said he had asked the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for advice on whether an election can be delayed with the creation of a caretaker government formed by the President. “The advice of the AGC is, to delay an election beyond the required date in such a manner is unconstitutional,” Teo said. The only exception to the rule, Mr Teo said, is when a state of emergency is declared.

He stressed that it is unhelpful to “mislead people into thinking that such an option exists to put off elections indefinitely and to have the President “form a new government when this goes against the Constitution”.

“To suggest this shows a disregard for or a lack of understanding of the Constitution. Putting forward constitutionally unworkable proposals at a time of serious national crisis can only confuse and mislead Singaporeans to the detriment of Singapore and Singaporeans,” he added.

Teo also noted that there is no legal basis or practical need exists to necessitate the formation of a caretaker government created by the President even in a state of emergency if the incumbent Cabinet remains in office.

“Even if there is a caretaker government under a state of emergency, it would by definition be a caretaker. It would be hobbled by the fact that it lacks the explicit mandate of voters and would therefore not be in a position to take major decisions on behalf of Singaporeans,” said Teo. “To steer the country through the COVID-19 crisis, a caretaker government would not have the mandate to do so. So how can this be in the best interest of the country and our people?”

SingFirst Tan Jee Say responds

Responding to Teo’s speech in Parliament, SingFirst chief Tan Jee Say who is a former presidential candidate himself, disagreed that delaying GE beyond the required date is unconstitutional. In fact, Jee Say pointed out on his Facebook page that the Constitution does provide for the President to declare a national emergency “whereby the security or economic life of Singapore is threatened”.

He added that the existing Constitution provides for proclamation of emergency by the President for 6 months.

“COVID-19 threatens our economic life especially when it drags on till April 2021 and qualifies as reason to declare a state of emergency and postpone the elections. As I have previously said in my FB post of 21 March 2020 – ‘this is what a responsible government should do rather than hold an election and endanger the lives of Singaporeans’,” he said.

Examining Article 150 (Proclamation of Emergency) of the Constitution, it is noted that while the proclamation of emergency is in force, Parliament can continue to make laws with respect to any matter, if it appears to Parliament that the law is “required by reason of the emergency”. That can of course involve delaying the deadline of GE.

Also according to Article 150, any authoritative orders put into effect or any law made during the emergency period shall be void at the expiration of the emergency period. In other words, they are meant to be temporary measures to tide through the emergency period.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

Two landlords fined for failing to declare rental income

Two individuals, Lim Moy Hai, 70, and Chua Kok Khoon, 48, were…

China rails against ‘discriminatory’ India app ban

China on Thursday decried a fresh ban by India on scores of…

共三名孩童、17教职员确诊 李智陞:暂不关闭幼儿园

截至目前为止,我国幼儿园已出现3名孩童和17名教职员确诊病例,不过,社会及家庭发展部长李智陞认为,幼园是必要服务,不打算在目前关闭幼园。 凤山Sparkletots幼儿园近日传出确诊病例,成为新的感染群,李智陞今早(26日)召开紧急记者会,指出其中一名孩童是较早前已经公布,蔡厝港The Orange Tree幼儿园的5岁学童,另外两名则是因和确诊病例接触而受感染。 当局指出,确诊的两名孩童,其中一人是和家人自外国回来后确诊,另一孩童则是父母其中一人自外国回来后受到感染,然而两名孩童已很久没到幼儿园了,因此不会对校方造成威胁。 17名确诊教职员中,凤山Sparkletots幼儿园就占了15人,另两人则分别是“新意元幼源幼儿园”的厨房助理,以及红山麟谷峇鲁(Lengkok Bahru)的My World学前教育中心教师。 一名校长、12教师、两名行政人员确诊 李智陞指出,凤山Sparkletots幼儿园今早再有一名教师确诊,导致给幼儿园的累计病例达到19起,分别是校长、12名教师、两名行政人员以及四名校长家属。 而确诊校长在出现症状后,还曾经参与培训课程和会议,因此出席相关活动人士都被下令隔离。 李智陞表示,凤山Sparkletots幼儿园有五名孩童也出现了症状,但是冠毒检测呈阴性。…

工业仲裁庭指新捷运集体协定未违反雇佣法

今年9月,五名巴士司机分别状告本地巴士业者新捷运(SBS Transit),指责后者违反加班工酬条款,支付不足工酬。 新捷运在本月18日,宣布把上述薪资诉讼申请转移到工业仲裁庭(IAC)审理。此前诉方将诉状提呈推事庭聆讯。 当时,新捷运声称,有鉴于上诉巴士司机提出的诉讼,也牵涉该公司与NTWU的共同协议,故此依法、为了新捷运全体巴士车长利益、与NTWU的良好关系,新捷运决定把此纠纷交由工业仲裁庭作裁决。 至于人力部当时亦赞同,交由工业仲裁庭处理“是建设性举措”。 上述诉讼在本月4日开审,诠释新捷运和全国交通工友联合会(NTWU)签署的集体协定中,有关超时工作和休息日的条款,是否符合法律规定。 不过,根据该庭法官陈成安发布的书面判决,指新捷运在休息日、超时工作薪酬和工时方面,并未违反上述集体协定。 法官是根据新捷运提供的雇佣合同、轮值表和薪酬计算样本作判断,也指休息日条款也未违反雇佣法。 根据合同,新捷运要求巴士司机必须每周工作48小时,包括4小时强制的“内置加班”工时。但是根据雇佣法令,雇员每日工时不超过八小时,或每周不超过44小时。超过这工时就必须支付一般工资1.5倍的酬劳。 而新捷运则告知法庭,如司机拒绝“内置加班”,就可被视为违反合约。此外,每周工作48小时,惟工作日仍有45分钟休息和包餐点。 对此法官认为,扣除了45分钟休息,也意味着每周工时为43.5小时,并未违反雇佣法。 但他指出有关雇佣合同一些差异可能引起混乱和误解,并认为取决于新捷运和交通工友联合会,是否检讨与司机的工作安排,并且依据雇佣法使用的条款定义,如“基本工资率”、“总收入”和“工时”、“加班”等。…