Dr Tan Cheng Bock arrives at the Court of Appeal to hear the outcome of his appeal on a constitutional challenge relating to the Presidential Election. (Photo: Vanessa Paige Chelvan)
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s highest court has reserved judgment in former presidential hopeful Tan Cheng Bock’s appeal against the decision to throw out an application contesting the legitimacy of the upcoming reserved Presidential Election.
It is unclear when a judgment will be delivered, with Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon saying that the five judges hearing the case on Monday (Jul 31) would get back to the court "as soon as possible".
Speaking after the appeal hearing, Dr Tan said he will "wait and see".
"If we are wrong, then we will accept it," Dr Tan said, adding that in the context of a democracy, this hearing is important to "ask questions".
Dr Tan, a Member of Parliament for 26 years (from 1980 to 2006), ran for President in 2011. He narrowly lost the election to Dr Tony Tan, the current President, whose term will end on Aug 31.
In March 2016, Dr Tan announced his intention to run for President again, but recent amendments to the Constitution have prevented him from doing so – the next Presidential Election is to be a reserved one; only Malay candidates are eligible to stand.
Dr Tan filed an application in May, challenging the basis of the Government’s decision to reserve the election for Malay candidates and calling for the September election to be an “open” one.
Under new rules, if there is not a President from a particular racial community for five consecutive terms, the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.
The application was dismissed on Jul 7. Justice Quentin Loh had said: “In my judgment, the recent constitutional amendments reflect a re-emphasis on the President’s unifying role and the conviction that, in order for the President to fulfil that role, that office must reflect the multiracial character of our country.”
Dr Tan had taken issue with the Government’s “unconstitutional” decision to count President Wee Kim Wee as Singapore’s first elected President. The first popularly elected President was Ong Teng Cheong, Dr Tan argued, and if the Government had started counting from President Ong’s term, this year’s election would not be a reserved one.
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