I guess by now all of you know that Yaw Shin Leong has been expelled by the Workers’ Party. Under the Singapore Constitution a MP must vacate his seat if he ceases to be a member of the party he was elected. This means that Hougang SMC has no MP for now.
Naturally, when a MP vacate his seat, a by-election is required. But this wasn’t the case when Dr Ong Chit Chung of Jurong GRC and Dr Balaji Sadasivan of Ang Mo Kio GRC passed away few years ago. The argument back then is that when a MP from a GRC vacate his seat, the rest of the MP in the GRC can fill in the role and a by-election is not requried. I do not agree with this argument back then.
But this time round, the vacant seat is from a SMC. It is clear cut that a by-election is required. But I’m disappointed when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there is no fixed time within which he must call a by-election. Something is really wrong with the Parliamentary Elections Act and it needs to be fixed. Back in 2008 when Dr Ong passed away, there was a motion in Parliament to amend the Parliamentary Elections Act so that a by-election is called within 3 months when a MP vacate his seat. Sadly, the amendment wasn’t passed. Looking back, I think we do need that amendment.
I don’t know why the Government is so reluctant to call for a by-election. The argument PM Lee gave this time was: “there are many other issues on the national agenda right now”. I don’t think we have any issue bigger than the representation of more than 24,000 Singaporeans in Parliament. Singapore is a democratic country. More than 24k people are currently not represented. This cannot go on for too long. If PM Lee respect the democratic system of Singapore, then a by-election should be called without delay.
The current Prime Minister should not have the luxury of waiting for good timing for his party before calling for by-election. When a group of Singaporeans are no longer represented in Parliament, a by-election should be held as soon as possible so that the current Government can have the mandate from the people to carry out their work.
Let me say again. There is no issue bigger than making sure 24,000 Singaporeans are properly represented in Parliament. Singapore is a democratic country. This is a by-election, NOT by-the-way election.