Dec 13, 2012

Singapore - Singapore: Time for another by-election?

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Election season may be upon Singapore yet again - the fourth time in two years. 2011 saw the hotly-contested General Election and the “battle of the Tans” for presidency.

In May this year a by-election was triggered in Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC) when Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the Workers’ Party.

Now, Singapore could be poised for another by-election. Michael Palmer, Member of Parliament for Punggol East SMC and Speaker of Parliament, resigned both positions on Wednesday afternoon after admitting to having an extra-marital affair with a member of grassroots organisation People’s Association.

With a seat vacant in Parliament once more, all eyes are on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to call a by-election. The elections commission falls under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office. PM Lee released a press statement on Thursday, saying:

The Constitution does not require me to call a by-election within any fixed timeframe. I will carefully consider whether to call a by-election in Punggol East and, if so, when. I assure Singaporeans that I will make my decision based on what is best for the constituents of Punggol East and the country.

An earlier effort by Hougang resident Mdm Vellama to get Singapore’s courts to rule that the Prime Minister has to call a by-election within three months of a seat’s vacancy was unsuccessful.

Despite the uncertainty over whether there will be a by-election, opposition parties are already gearing up for a contest. The Workers’ Party, who had contested the seat during the 2011 General Election, indicated that they were ready to put forward a candidate. The Reform Party has also put out a press release saying that it will “strongly consider” contesting the seat should there be a by-election.

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