Who will ascend the throne?
The Workers’ Party’s (WP) Lee Li Lian, Dennis Tan, and Leon Perera have been elected as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP), the Elections Department (ELD) announced Wednesday (16 Sept).
The three were the unelected candidates from Opposition parties with the highest votes — Lee Li Lian garnered 48.24% of votes in Punggol East SMC; Dennis Tan had 42.48% in Fengshan SMC; Leon Perera got 39.27% of votes together with East Coast GRC candidates Gerald Giam Yean Song, Daniel Goh Pei Siong, and Mohamed Fairoz Shariff.
However, Lee Li Lian said right after the results were released that she will not accept a NCMP position, while WP has nominated Daniel Goh to take her place.
This presents a quandary, because the Elections Department (ELD) suggests that it is not obliged to acquiesce to WP’s request, and may just leave that NCMP seat vacant.
How did we reach this deadlock? MustShareNews rounds up the situation for you.
Lee Li Lian will not accept the NCMP position
After the results were announced on Polling Day (11 Sep), Lee said that she was not inclined to undertake the position of a NCMP.
In a Facebook post, she cited 3 reasons for her decision.
WP’s Central Executive Council (CEC) has accepted Lee’s decision not to accept the NCMP position.
If not Lee Li Lian, then who?
On 15 Sept, WP’s CEC met to discuss the matter, eventually posting this:
…should Parliament resolve to fill the vacated NCMP seat left by Ms Lee, that Associate Professor Daniel Goh Pei Siong would fill that seat.
Although Goh was nominated for the position, it does not mean he would fill the seat.
In short, WP has no say in who fills the last vacant NCMP seat — the decision lies solely on the Parliament.
Parliament not obliged to declare that seat be filled by next succeeding candidate
Yesterday (16 Sep), an ELD spokesman said:
The Attorney General is of the view that if any NCMP declared to be elected under Section 52 of the Parliamentary Elections Act fails to take and subscribe before Parliament the Oath of Allegiance under Article 61 of the Constitution at the first or second sitting of Parliament during its first session after the General Election, then Parliament may at its discretion declare that seat vacant. Parliament is not thereafter obliged to declare that seat be filled by the next succeeding candidate.
In a blogpost, Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee, Assistant Professor of Law at SMU said:
The crucial point is that the PAP-dominated Parliament has a choice whether or not to do so.
I think it is unlikely the PAP would choose not to fill the vacant seat, as this would be going against its rationale for introducing the NCMP scheme – to ensure a certain number of alternative voices in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Daniel Goh is leaving it to fate.
The next Parliament will be convened in January 2016.
We’ll find out then.
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