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This report was printed from Singapore Parliament website.
Parliament No: Session No: Volume No: Sitting No: Sitting Date: Section Name: Title: MPs Speaking: 9 2 71 6 1999-11-24 MOTIONS RULE OF LAW Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee (Minister of State for Law); Mr Wong Kan Seng (Leader of the House); Mr Wong Kan Seng (Minister for Home Affairs); Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung; Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat; Mr Chiam See Tong; Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam; Mr Low Thia Khiang; Mr Simon S. C. Tay; Mr Eugene Yap Giau Cheng (Mr Deputy Speaker); Mr Tan Soo Khoon (Mr Speaker);
Sitting resumed at 3.30 pm [Mr Speaker in the Chair] RULE OF LAW
Mr Speaker: This motion is subject to signification of support by at least one Member. Does the motion have the support of any other hon. Member? Mr Low Thia Khiang (Hougang): I support. Mr Jeyaretnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, That this House recognises the importance of the Rule of Law and urges the government to ensure the complete and full compliance of the Rule of Law by all Ministers, officials and public servants. Mr Speaker, Sir, may I assure those Members of the House who perhaps are asking why is the Member always raising issues that are --Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat (Aljunied): Point of order, Sir. Mr Speaker: Yes. What is your point of order? Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat: I believe the NCMP has changed the words of the motion and has not given notice of it. Mr Speaker: Mr Jeyaretnam, in the motion that you have submitted, I think the Member is referring to the word "observance". You have used the word "compliance".
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Mr Jeyaretnam: I see. I am sorry. Mr Speaker: Can I ask you to stick to the original words? Mr Jeyaretnam: Thank you, I will. Thank you for pointing that out.
Mr Speaker: Please proceed. Mr Jeyaretnam: Sir, I beg to move, That this House recognises the importance of the Rule of Law and urges the government to ensure the complete and full observance of the Rule of Law by all Ministers, officials and public servants. I was saying, Sir, that I assure those Members of the House who perhaps are asking themselves why is the Member introducing the subject on which we have heard enough, and do we have to listen again to the same thing. May I remind the Members that the subject is not about any abstract value. It may be intangible, but is more valuable than any tangibles. The rule of law is what sets a civilised society apart from other societies that do not observe the rule of law. So it is not an abstract airy-fairy rule that is propounded or shouted out by left wing liberals, but it is something that is so fundamental in any society that believes itself to be a civilised society. I do not think I have to make a strong case on the first statement that the House recognises the importance of the rule of law, because we have had, many a time, Ministers declaring how Singapore scrupulously obeys the rule of law. So there is an admission that Singapore scrupulously recognises the rule of law. The Government often talks about having the fundamentals correct, and they pride themselves that in Singapore the fundamentals are correct and laid down. May I say that the rule of law is the first basic fundamental for any society. It is the only guarantee of the subject's freedom. Without the rule of law, the subject lives in a state of uncertainty and in a state of bewilderment and consequently of fear. But where the rule of law obtains in all its fullest extent, the citizen can live happily, breathe freely, knowing that he is ruled only by the law and not by anything else. Under this rule, citizens are ruled by the law and the law alone. We have had, only this afternoon, the Minister of State saying that it was important to send a strong message to those who blatantly and flagrantly disregard the law. My party says
amen to that. The question is: is the Government exempt from this scrupulous observance of the Rule of Law? And that is what the House has to decide this afternoon. I have no doubt what the outcome of this motion will be. But what this House has to ponder is whether the Government in Singapore disregards the law, or is it only its citizens who refuse to attend and answer court summonses? We have to ask the question whether in Singapore it is a society that lives under the rule of law or whether it is a society that lives under a government that acts by decree rather than under law. It is a question that we have got to face and answer. Is the society
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in Singapore a civilised society living under the rule of law? Or is it a society more akin to a society ruled by a Mafia? I know these are strong words but the question has to be asked and answered. If the rule of law does not obtain and citizens cannot live in the certainty that all their actions will be judged only by the law and by nothing else, and they will only be punished by the law and not by any arbitrary power on the part of the Minister, it is no better than a dictatorship, where a dictator rules by decree. May I quote to this House what one of the finest writers from Africa and a Nobel Laureate, Mr Wole Soyinka, from Nigeria, wrote in his book The Open Sore of a Continent. And these are his words, "Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist. All that remains is a fiefdom, a planet of slaves." How true those words are. If it is a dictatorship, ruled by decree, then it is no longer a nation but a fiefdom. May I also inform the Members that the proposition of the rule of law that it is an absolute fundamental and necessary before citizens can live in peace and freedom is not something new. It is not a novel concept. Its origins can perhaps be traced back to the 13th century when the English Barons met at Runnymede to curtail and to restrict the powers of the Monarch. Before that, the Monarch was ruling at will, doing what he wished and restricting the liberties of his subjects. And so the Barons gathered to put an end to this rule by the Monarch without any law
and they passed a number of declarations. These declarations were later accepted by the Monarch, Henry III, I think, and came to be known as the Magna Carta, the great Charter. And clause 39 is revealing. One can see the origins of all our recent declarations in this clause, and if I may read clause 39: "No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disused or outlawed or exiled or in any way destroyed nor will we send upon him except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." They are laying down, telling the Monarch that no free man shall be taken, exiled, his liberty destroyed in any way except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. Clause 40 says, "To no one will we sell, deny or delay right or justice." As I have said, they were embodied in the Great Charter issued back in the time of Henry III at the request of the Barons and became a foundation for the society in England. One of the reasons why despite the Government's assertion, often repeated, that in Singapore the Government observes the rule of law scrupulously and it is seen in its fullest extent, and the critics saying something quite the opposite, that there is no rule of law in Singapore today, may be due to a misconception as to what is meant and understood by the Rule of Law. Therefore, it is important that we try and understand what we mean when we say of the Rule of Law. I see the mentor of the leaders of this Government, Confucius himself, recognised the importance of giving things their correct names. He was asked by a disciple, "What will be your first task if you are given the charge of a country?" His answer was, "Rectify the names." When he was asked to explain, he was reported to have said, "If the names are not correct, if they do not match realities, language has no object. If language is without an object, action becomes impossible. Therefore, all human affairs disintegrate, and their management becomes impossible. Hence, the very first task of a true statesman is to rectify the names." So the need to try and name things properly is recognised by Confucius
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himself. Perhaps I should try and say something about what is understood by the Rule of Law. This term, the Rule of Law, came into prominence when Prof. A. V. Dicey, a Vinerian Professor of English law, propounded it. He saw the Rule of Law to consist of two main parts. "One, the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative or even of wide discretionary authority on the part of the Government. Subjects are ruled by the law and by the law alone. A subject can be punished for a breach of law but they can be punished for nothing else." He continues: "In this sense, rule of law contrasts with every system of Government based on the exercise by persons in authority of wide arbitrary or discretionary powers of constraint." That is the first meaning of the Rule of Law. Mr Speaker: Order. Mr Jeyaretnam, would you return to your seat? Mr Jeyaretnam resumed his seat. Mr Wong Kan Seng: Mr Speaker, Sir, before Mr Jeyaretnam continues with his lecture, may I just move the exemption motion to give more time. Mr Speaker: All right.
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Debate resumed. Mr Speaker: You may continue, Mr Jeyaretnam. Mr Jeyaretnam: Thank you. The second sense of this meaning of the Rule of Law is that every subject, whatever be his rank
or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals. Every official, from the Prime Minister down to a constable or a collector of taxes, is under the same responsibility for every act done without legal justification as any other citizen. He adds a third sense, which is that, Rule of Law is part of the common law and has been propounded by judicial decisions rather than by any written constitution. He is speaking of course of England of the United Kingdom. But he continues to say that in developing countries, this has now been incorporated into their written constitutions. So it has in our Singapore Constitution. As I have said once before that when we decided to break away from the British rule, we nevertheless decided, all political parties gathering together and deciding as a people, that we will opt for the Westminster style of Government and for the institutions that were applicable in England and, of course, as they were applicable in Singapore at that time. The common law had been imported into Singapore in the 19th century and the institutions of Government followed exactly the Westminster style of Government. So we decided that we would have not any other system. This was a deliberate conscious choice of the people made through their political parties before the delegation went to London. And as I have said, the present Senior Minister was, of course, a member of that delegation.
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Now, we have a Constitution. These principles of the Rule of Law are to be found in our Constitution. They are there. They are no longer dependent upon judicial interpretations and declarations of the Rule of Law. It has become part of the Constitution. The Constitution, as I have said, is an act of the people. It is the people's charter. It is the charter by which the people have bound themselves to live together as a society. So we find these principles of the Rule of Law in our Constitution and they are to be found - I am not going to read them for want of time - in Articles 9 and 12 of the Constitution. There are also other Articles. They are all to be
found in Part II, I think, which enacts the fundamental liberties of the people. But the most important ones are Articles 9 and 12. One also has to understand what is meant by the term "law" in the phrase "Rule of Law". In a case that went up to the Privy Council, in the case of Ong Ah Chuan versus the Public Prosecutor, concerning the question whether a certain provision in an Act (I think it was the Misuse of Drugs Act) was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, it was argued for the Government of Singapore that the Act was not contrary to the Constitution because it had been passed by Parliament following the procedure set for the passing of law by the Constitution. So it had been regularly passed and therefore that was law, and that was all that we had to look at. The Privy Council had no hesitation in rejecting that - to confine law just to written law passed by Parliament or the legislature. Lord Diplock, delivering the judgment of the Privy Council said this: "In a Constitution founded on the Westminster model and particularly in that part of it that purports to assure to all individual citizens the continued enjoyment of fundamental liberties or right, references to law in such context as 'in accordance with law', 'equality before the law', 'protection of the law' and their like, in their Lordship's view, refer to a system of law which incorporates those fundamental rules of natural justice that had formed part and parcel of the common law of England that was in operation in Singapore at the commencement of the Constitution. It would have been taken for granted by the makers of the Constitution that the law to which citizens could have recourse for the protection of fundamental liberties assured to them by the Constitution would be a system of law that did not flout those fundamental rules. If it were otherwise, it would be misuse of language to speak of law as something which affords protection for the individual in the enjoyment of its fundamental liberties and the purported entrenchment by Article 5 of Articles 9(1) and 12(1) will be little better than a mockery." So law is not just the Acts passed by Parliament but the fundamental rules of natural justice that have been accepted and become part and parcel of the common law and which, as they say, and which I have been saying, was the law in Singapore in operation before that. I was talking about the misconception. And it comes to my mind that sometime in the 1980s when I was in this House, there was
a debate on the Internal Security Act. I said then that the provisions in the Act providing for detention of persons under an order of the Minister was a blatant negation of the Rule of Law. I said there was no question about it, because it blatantly disregarded the fundamental rules of natural justice. The then Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Chua Sian Chin, in replying asked: "Is the Member trying to say that the Internal Security Act is not law? It was not passed properly?" There you have the misconception. Even an Act of Parliament can violate the Rule of Law. It can violate the Constitution and that is specially
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provided by the Constitution which says that any Act which is inconsistent or contrary to the Articles of this Constitution shall to that extent be void. And further by Article 162, it enjoins the Government and the courts to modify, alter and interpret Articles in any law so as to comply with the Articles in the Constitution, if that law seems to conflict with anything in the Constitution. So it is no answer to say, "Oh, we have the law, and that is it." The question is whether that law itself violates the Rule of Law as understood through the centuries. That is the main question. I think I have said enough to try to define what we are talking about when we say the Rule of Law is supreme and what is meant by the Rule of Law. I must now proceed without any further delay - I see time is running on - to list what I see to be the instances or examples of the violation of this fundamental principle of the Rule of Law in Singapore. Mr Speaker, Sir, after I have listed them, I shall proceed to set out what I think the Government should do immediately, and then return back to this list of violations to try and explain how they violate the Rule of Law. The first on my list of the examples of violation of the Rule of Law is, of course, as has been asserted by us many a time, the arrest and detention of persons without trial purely on the arbitrary power invested by Parliament albeit, on the Minister. A person in Singapore can be
detained without trial under the Internal Security Act, under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act and also under the Misuse of Drugs Act, although some justification may be found for the detention under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The second is the arrest by police officers and other law enforcement officers without informing the subject of the charge. It is absolutely important under the Rule of Law that a person's liberty should not be deprived. He should not be deprived of his liberty, or in any way restrained unless he is first told of the law under which that can be done, and why it should be done. Also incidental to this is the searches - search of a person's house carried out by the Police and other law enforcement agencies. There again a citizen is entitled to insist that any search of his house be strictly in accordance with the law. Thirdly, the denial of the right to counsel - denial of the right of arrested persons to counsel and to visits from families for a period of time. Fourthly, there is the denial of bail by the courts even without adequate reasons. I am referring to the often heard request from police officers prosecuting to ask for a remand in Police custody when the accused is first produced in court. As I said once before, usually that request is granted without any inquiry, and I shall explain why it violates the Rule of Law. Then the one which we the Opposition have often raised - it is the fifth one - the denial of the freedom of speech and assembly. That violates the Rule of Law. And when I say about freedom of speech and assembly, of course, I am also referring to the freedom of the newspapers to publish - the freedom of the press. That is part and parcel of the freedom of speech. Sixthly, denial of reasons for executive decisions and shutting out appeals to the courts. As I shall say, now in almost every Act, one finds this denial of reasons for
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decisions and not allowing any recourse to the courts. Seventhly, the restrictions on the right to travel in Singapore, the impounding of passports without an order of court. When I come to illustrate, I shall, of course, refer to the case of Mdm Teo Siew Har whose passport was detained for several months for no reason at all under the law. Then we have the eighth on the list - the power given to the Housing and Development Board to throw out lessees or tenants without having to take them to court. That is, if ever there was one, a clear violation of the person's rights and the Rule of Law. Then we also have the suspension and cancellation of people's licences by executive officials, and I have in mind, of course, the licences of taxi drivers, without a proper judicial inquiry. So you have in Singapore an abundance of power exercised by the executive through its officials which offend the Rule of Law. That is the first limb - that no one shall be arrested, deprived of anything, except under the law. Now, if I may come to the second limb - the equality of all persons under the law, and as Prof. Dicey says, from the Prime Minister down to the constable they are equal under the law. No one is more equal than another under the law. The Prime Minister is not more equal than a postman or a collector of rubbish. And under this, I have about four heads, and that is, the blatant violations during election time by Government and Ministers to secure the victory of their party, the ruling party, including intimidation of voters. There you have clearly the law not evenly applied as between one party and another. Then we have the case not very long ago where it was seen that the law was not evenly applied. The purchase of apartments in Nassim Road and Scotts 28 by Ministers and public officials. I shall explain why I say that also seems to imply that some persons are more equal than others. Of course, I shall explain that. But let me assure the House, in case an attempt is made to assert that I am
suggesting corruption, I am not. All I am saying is the law should be evenly applied. Then we have the disparate treatment of Opposition political parties in their applications for licences to hold their activities or conduct their programmes. I will explain that if I have the time. And finally, we have the just recently concluded instance of the President's election. I shall explain why it is a violation of the Rule of Law and violates particularly Article 12 of the Constitution. If I may move on and say what I think should be done as a priority by this Government. And we said this before, we are approaching the end of the century, we are approaching the end of the millennium and we keep talking about the 21st century. These steps have to be done immediately before we go too far into the 21st century. And I am commending to this Government that they immediately take the following steps. One is to repeal the provisions in the Internal Security Act providing for detention without trial. They are absolutely no longer necessary for our society in Singapore. They are an open sore. Secondly, repeal the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. That also is not necessary in our society today. Both these Acts may be convenient to the Government. But that is not the criterion, that is not the test. The test is the people's liberties.
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It is important to preserve the people's liberties. I do not ask the Government to repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act. But I think they should have another look at the Misuse of Drugs Act and see whether it contains sufficient safeguards against unfairly depriving a person of his liberty. Fourthly, I would urge the Government to consider amending the law relating to public meetings and processions. This comes under the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly so as to give full weight to the Article in the Constitution.
Fifthly, repeal the provisions in the Housing and Development Act which empowers the Board to evict people without having to take them to court. The Housing and Development Board acts as the accuser, the Judge, the executioner. It is unheard of. But in Singapore, we have had this for some time. Sixthly, I am seriously suggesting to this Government that the police force should be taken out of political control. It should no longer come under the control or direction of the political masters. And likewise, I am proposing that the CPIB be also removed from the control of the political masters. I shall, if I have the time, expand on all this a bit more. But it may not be possible. The list of examples I have given of the violations in Singapore is, by no means, exhaustive. I could add a lot more. But I have tried to pick out what I thought were the very major serious violations of the Rule of Law. There are many other violations and, equally, my recommendations are only just the beginning, ie, recommendations of the steps that the Government must take immediately to establish the Rule of Law. Now, if I may move on and as quickly as possible try and explain why the Internal Security Act violates the Rule of Law. Under the Act, as I have said, it is just the Minister, and there is no way of checking the Minister's decision, who decides to make an order detaining a subject, depriving him of his liberty, completely contrary to the rule of natural justice and the fundamental principle that all men are free. The Constitution itself provides for a situation when this right may be restrained and, that is in Part XII of the Constitution, that is when there is an emergency, when there is a determined group of people resorting to unlawful means to bring down the Government and the society. The Constitution says in that situation, you have to pass an Act of Parliament and then you can restrain their liberties and restrict them. Are there any other conditions? And that was the case when the British passed
the Emergency Regulations. Under the colonial government, Emergency Regulations were a purely temporary affair, designed to deal with what they thought and saw as an immediate threat to the country from people who were determined to break down the Government and create trouble in the society. So they brought in the Emergency Regulations and they were purely temporary, three months at a time and they had to be passed and renewed. After we took over, we retained that power under the Public Peace and Security Ordinance (PPSO), giving the power to the Government. David Marshall who was a passionate believer in the Rule of Law and a believer in the freedom of the individual however added a safeguard. He introduced a court or tribunal of three persons to whom an appeal may be made by the person detained and who may release that person if the tribunal was not satisfied that it
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was necessary to detain the person. But the PAP, when they took over, and the great champion of personal liberty when Mr David Marshall was in power - the Chief Minister of the country - did away with that provision appointing the tribunal and reverted back to an advisory panel without any power to release. The power is only necessary in emergency times when there is a real threat and so we do not need it any more. Let us for once realise that it is a violation of the Rule of Law. Let us be honest and repeal it. The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act again was a temporary measure. It was passed to deal with the threat from secret societies in those days. I remember I was a District Judge in those days having to record statements from persons who had been detained under this Act or Ordinance in those days. A lot of them were later released after the statements were recorded and it was established that they were perhaps not members of any secret society. So that was a temporary measure and we do not need that now. But now it is used for lots of other reasons.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, my suggestion is that there should be proper safeguards. We should require the Director of the Central Narcotics Bureau to get a court order before a person is detained, present the evidence to the District Judge or Magistrate and let the District Judge or Magistrate decide whether, on the medical evidence presented he is satisfied that the person is a drug addict requiring treatment, to make an order for detention. That is the provision under the Mental Disorder Treatment Act and we should take that over into the Misuse of Drugs Act. Then about the arrests that I mentioned, that is, the second violation. It is, as I said, the law that an accused person must be told the reason and the charge for which he is arrested. It was declared so by the House of Lords many, many years ago in what came to be known as the Christy Lynskey case. But in Singapore, persons are just picked up, not told the reason, that alone the charge. They are just told, "Follow me or come to the CID or the CNB." And if they ask why, he is told, "You will be told there." That is a violation of the Rule of Law. You are interfering with that person's liberty without any legal justifications. Even a minute's interference of the person's liberty is unjustified unless the law allows it. And similarly, with search warrants. There was the recent case and the Minister of State replying to it said, "Oh, yes, but the Misuse of Drugs Act provides." Yes, I know it does. Mr Speaker: Order. Mr Jeyaretnam, you have used up your time. Question proposed. Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Sir, I shall be brief. I know that Singapore has been voted as having the best judicial system in this part of the world but I think the concept of the Rule of Law is not purely about the judicial system. It means more than that. The Rule of Law does not mean just plain justice that is observed in our courts. I have no complaints about our court's function. In fact, I think they are doing a very good job. The Rule of Law to me
means that the Government, in its dealings with the people, has to be fair, transparent and predictable. I cannot say that the Government's dealings with the Opposition parties have been fair, transparent and
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predictable. The Government has control of every public function in Singapore. The Opposition parties are, of course, not happy with the way the Government treats them in regard to applications to hold those functions. The Opposition parties are treated as if they are obligated to the Government and have to get permission to organise any public functions such as dinners, lantern festival or pasar malams. The Opposition do not mind applying for permission if they are done for a purely administrative purpose. But asking for permission or licence is done more for political reasons. Often, when Opposition parties apply for a Public Entertainments Licence or other applications, they do not get a quick reply. They are left in a limbo and have to wait for a long time. And in their anxiety, they telephone the appropriate department and they are told, surprisingly, that that department is waiting for word from the top. We are just wondering whether a simple application for permission, say, to hold a lantern festival or a pasar malam or dinner, you must wait for permission from the top. Mr Yatiman asked for examples. We have only just recently held the 6th Anniversary Dinner of our Party on Saturday, 20th November. We applied for a Public Entertainments Licence on 16th October and our answer did not come until 15th November, five days before the function starts. As you know, if you are organising a dinner, there is a lot of organising to do. This uncertainty of whether a licence shall be given at all makes organising such functions very difficult. When the licence came, permission was given to karaoke singing, song items given by the old folks at the constituency, lion dance, lucky draws, but no speeches were allowed. I was taken aback. I am the elected Member at Potong Pasir, and I am not allowed to speak to my constituents! I had to hurriedly send an appeal to say,
"Please allow me to speak." Their reply came, "All right, you can speak but only for ten minutes for purposes of thanking your constituents for coming and acknowledging their sponsorship and gifts that they have given to you." I do not think it reflects that we have the Rule of Law in Singapore. I am not asking much. I am just asking the Government, when they deal with the Opposition, let us have fairness, transparency and a predictable system. So when we write a letter or even before we hold a function, we know what is coming, what is allowed and what is not allowed. But as it is, the whole situation is always very difficult to deal with. It is even now. You may like to know that for any function if we make an application, we do not get a reply until five days or so before the function starts. So how can you hold a function without having any anxiety? We do not know whether or not permission will be given, we do not know whether or not part of the programme will be allowed, or whatever. Sir, I am not asking too much. I am just asking the Government, when it deals with the Opposition, please let us have fairness, transparency and predictability. Mr Simon Tay: Mr Speaker, in this motion there is much to agree with. But in the arguments put forward, there is much I find that I cannot agree with. Let me begin with what I do agree with. I agree that Rule of Law is very important and I think all of us would. I also agree that the Rule of Law takes us beyond a very narrow legalism, but that law is more than what we put on a piece of paper and pass in this House. There are certain natural attributes to law. That I agree. When you agree that law is more than legalism, you look for some idea of fairness. But there, we can disagree. What may seem fair to me may not seem fair to another person or to NCMP, Mr Jeyaretnam, who
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moved this motion. In this sense, we must quickly distinguish between the fair procedure of law and the fairness in substance of law. For procedure, we find it easier to agree.
In moving this motion and his arguments, I tried to listen to NCMP Jeyaretnam carefully. I think there are some problems in his arguments in terms not so much of this broad idea of the Rule of Law but in his complaints and instances. This relates specifically to certain dichotomies, the first of these is an abstract perfection of what is Rule of Law, against the reality of a working system, the society in motion, in action. When we compare any society to those abstract perfections, there are shortcomings, instances of weakness or areas of improvements. I then have to ask myself, when I listened to the instances brought forward by the NCMP, whether this speaks of a systemic abuse and failure of the Rule of Law, or whether these instances are just that, instances. If they are instances, there is recourse to the Rule of Law itself, ie, the Government of the day or certain officials are not fulfilling the Rule of Law, there are other ways of getting the Rule of Law done and observed, and this is to go to the courts. And on this, I found the MP for Potong Pasir, Mr Chiam See Tong's argument is of dual-headed. He says he trusts the courts. He himself pointed out that our courts are one of the most respected. Yet, he complained about certain systems of unfairness. The answer must be, if the courts are fair, but there are instances of difficulty in his view, he must go to the courts. I would like to point out that in recent years, there have been a number of cases in which people have done exactly that. They have taken hard cases to the courts and they have won against the Government. There was the Eddie Taw's case on the constitutionality of Prevention of Corruption Act. There was the Christopher's Bridges' case on the Official Secrets Act. There was a recent decision against the Ministry of Manpower on certain actions they took in arbitrating between employer and employee in which the courts felt that they have over-exceeded their powers.
Looking further back, the courts have also struck down decisions by the Housing and Development Board, which Mr Jeyaretnam mentioned, as well as the Registry of Companies and Businesses. My point is, if our system is endemically weak, the whole system is bad, then we really have to call for this motion. But if there are only limited instances, the very courts which Mr Chiam mentioned are the upholder of the Rule of Law. The one exception I think that NCMP Mr Jeyaretnam had on his cards was the Internal Security Act (ISA). That, as a law, the ISA fulfills the Constitution as an exception. It does not fulfill the concept of the Rule of Law in the sense that there are only very limited grounds on which a court can review the decision of the Minister. It is in that sense a subjective discretion. Mr Jeyaretnam then shared his idea on whether there was a need for amendment, and called for the abolition of the ISA. When I first became an NMP, I was asked about this. My view was that the time has come to seriously re-look at the ISA. I still think we should re-look at it. But, in asking for this, I have had to re-look at some of my premises too, because in the last year, I asked in this House, and I was told that we
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do have present detainees under the Internal Security Act. And why? These are not political detainees. There are some allegations of espionage and other things. This was all released to the public after the question I asked in this House. The point is that, in that sense, we are not arguing about preventive detention in abstract anymore. It is not perfect abstraction. There was no public furore or upset about these recent ISA cases when they were announced publicly. As far as I know, the human rights Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) are not more upset than they have been with Singapore before. The NGOs have also never raised their hand against the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act which NCMP Mr Jeyaretnam has mentioned today. I like to point out that the NCMP himself has not completely questioned the basis of the Misuse of
Drugs Act. It also has preventive detention powers. This is therefore an inconsistency in his stand. So my point is that none of these are we really arguing on principle, Rule of Law, yes or no, black or white. It is a case-by-case decision, because that is how we live our lives in a real society. The NCMP drew a lot of precedents from England. Can I point out that while England has had a very good record in talking about principles, of Rule of Law and living up to many of them, there are also shortcomings in their court, as in every country - emergency laws in Ireland to deal with the emergency there. Many of the precedents that our courts follow in accepting the subjective discretion of the Minister come from English precedents. So I would not think that any society has all the answers. I think of this particularly, because I thought this motion should be understood in the context not so much of the past, which NCMP Jeyaretnam has tried to re-establish for us, but in the context of the present crisis in our region. This crisis has been one that has also raised many questions about good governance, and one of the elements of good governance is the Rule of Law. The Transparency International, an NGO, has named Singapore the highest ranked country in Asia against corruption. I think it is the seventh or eighth in the world. When you look at the region around us, you have to understand that there are many realities which do not measure up to the benchmarks of Transparency International. I was in Indonesia last week and I met with various officials there. They have a severe task in front of them. An old acquaintance, Marzuki Darusman, is now Attorney-General. He, I think, and this is my personal belief, is a man who would try to make a difference, to try to establish the Rule of Law, but the institutions, the officials, some are good and some are not so good. There has been a systemic problem, which we do not have in Singapore. The answers, in this context, are much more complex and difficult than ours.
Of course, Singapore is different - size, heritage, a Government that has been clean and not corrupt, and I do not say that we are perfect. But my point today is that if this motion was about the importance of the Rule of Law and how, without being perfect, our Government has tried to observe it and how if Government does not observe it, then the courts will fill that gap, I would have agreed with the motion. But as has been argued by the two speakers before me, I regret I cannot support the motion. Mr Chiam See Tong: Sir, a question for Mr Simon Tay.
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Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, are you seeking a point of clarification? Mr Chiam See Tong: Yes. I am surprised that the NMP says that I should go to court when I was not given permission to speak. I have been a practising politician for over 20 years now. I would like to ask him whether the decision not to allow me to speak is a judicial decision on the part of the Minister, or is it a political decision. Mr Simon Tay: I am really surprised that Mr Chiam does not understand judicial review. Of course, it is the decision of the official in charge, but if the official transgresses certain parameters of the law, if he is acting unreasonably, if he is acting unfairly without due cause, if he has favoured a PAP official and not Mr Chiam, these are all subject to judicial review. In this sense, while many of our laws do not have appeal to the courts, the courts use judicial review to ensure that things observe the Rule of Law. Is that clear enough, Mr Chiam? Mr Chiam See Tong: I think it is difficult for us to go into a debate, because Mr Simon Tay is an academician and I am speaking as a practical politician. He thinks I am like a cry baby, go to the court to get remedy. To me, this is a political decision and it has to be rectified politically. And I think we know how to do that. The Minister of State for Law (Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee): Mr Speaker, Sir, the NCMP never fails to bore us, never fails to
show us that he lives in the past, never fails to show us that he is good in delivering lectures on very basic points, which any first year law student would know. For the first almost 30 minutes of his speech, he had talked about things of the past - Magna Carta, Confucius - things which are not of relevance in Singapore, before coming to the Constitution, which is what really matters. He had mentioned basic points that any first year law student would know, which I think highlights the fact that this motion is really unnecessary and gratuitous. Sir, he is right. We have heard enough of him, because that is what he said in this House, and we truly agree. Why do I say that this motion is not necessary and gratuitous? As Mr Tay and all of us believe, there is undoubtedly the Rule of Law in Singapore. And all our Ministers, officials and public servants fully observe the Rule of Law. It is therefore absurd to even imply that the Rule of Law does not prevail in Singapore. Of course, he will cite instances, which I will deal with later on. But again these are instances which he culls from the past. It is as though, in preparation for this motion, he had gone through the Hansard to see what were the points he had raised, probably re-reading his speeches. Mr Jeyaretnam: I did not do that. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: All right. He probably went through his files or his diary to see what points he raised. But he did not read carefully the replies that were given, because he has raised all these points before. I was very diligent in trying to see what new points I could counter. Whether it is, for example, rights of an accused person, right to counsel, right to be informed of the grounds of arrest, or our preventive detention laws, the Internal Security Act, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act, or other matters such as Ministers' actions at the last general elections, or purchases of flats at Nassim Jade and Scotts 28, or the need to hold a by-election, whether or not they are unconstitutional, all these
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have been debated, all these have been answered. So I do not think I want to prolong the agony of this House by going through the points one by one. Mr Jeyaretnam: Just sit down. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: He would like that. But he has held the floor for one hour. So I think I should do, though not quite likewise, but at least take some time to show up his motion. I would say that instead of this House moving this motion, this House should commend the Government for ensuring that all in Singapore observe the Rule of Law. I went though the Hansard. He may not have gone through the Hansard, but I went through the Hansard, the compilation of all our debates. And I can tell this House that since he first entered Parliament in 1981, until 1986, and then after he re-entered Parliament in 1997, he has raised all these points before. Indeed, since 1997, he has filed innumerable questions for oral answers, Committee of Supply cuts and several motions, not less than 10 motions or so, including about six main and two adjournment motions covering topics that have been covered today. I am sure he would remember our previous encounters in 1997 when we talked about the need to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the rights of accused persons, a commission of inquiry to look at whether or not our defamation laws ought to be changed, respect for the Judiciary, and we had long debates. That is why when I prepared for this motion, I wanted to see whether there is need to do more. Because if there is a need to do more, I will do more. But alas, hearing the NCMP out for one hour, I think he has said nothing new. As Mr Simon Tay said, he picks on instances, areas. He does not see the big picture. I think he is coloured by the fact that he has been around a long time. He does not see the big picture, especially of what is new, what has transpired in Singapore over the last 10-15 years. I applaud Mr Tay. He says that he took a certain position as regards judicial review under the ISA, in the light of the fact that
there have been recent detentions, he is prepared to re-consider his earlier opinion. This means that he does listen to what transpires in this House, what Government has to say in explaining why certain Acts are necessary and why certain laws are necessary. But not so Mr Jeyaretnam. This is what he does. He takes specific instances and then he puts them all in a very alarming manner, as though the Rule of Law is something that does not exist in Singapore, as though there is a systemic problem with the Rule of Law. Let me say that that is not the case. Even then, the instances that he cites are all based on erroneous interpretation, both of the law and, in some instances, of the facts. It is just like what transpired earlier on in this House when he challenged the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology saying that if we clamp a person's car, we are punishing him, we are punishing an innocent person. I am quite surprised with that. Surely Mr Jeyaretnam must know that this is not an innocent person. He has been summoned to court for a parking offence. He does not come. And then a warrant of arrest is issued against him and he also does not comply with the warrant. So he is cocking a snook at the law. He is not complying with an order of the court to appear. And so you clamp his car, not to punish him, but to inconvenience him, to ensure that he appears before a court. This is not judicial punishment which, of course, will be unconstitutional. Mr Jeyaretnam: May I by way of clarification?
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Mr Speaker: Are you giving way, Prof. Ho? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: No, Mr Speaker, Sir. I think Mr Jeyaretnam has had his hour. Now it is my turn. Mr Jeyaretnam: I will correct you. Mr Speaker: Order. Please continue, Prof. Ho. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: What does the concept of the Rule of Law entail?
Maybe I should also give a bit of background, but I will do it in two minutes, not 25 minutes. In short, the Rule of Law refers to the supremacy of law, as opposed to the arbitrary exercise of power. The other key tenet is that everyone is equal before the law. The concept also includes the notions of the transparency, openness and prospective application of our laws, observation of the principles of natural justice, independence of the Judiciary and judicial review of administrative action. Let me state very clearly that all these are established features of our legal system. We all know that everyone in Singapore is subject to the law. No one is above the law. Other nations admire us for this aspect of our good governance, the Rule of Law. Hence, everyone, from the President to the humblest citizen, is subject to the same laws. There are no double standards or favouritism, and no one is exempt. This is an important point because the integrity and credibility of our institutions, including the Government and civil service and their players, are the key foundations of Singapore's success. Also for this reason, Ministers and MPs suspected of wrongdoing have been investigated and indeed some have been prosecuted. If Members recall, three years ago, Senior Minister and DPM Lee came to this House to explain their actions in relation to some property purchases they had made which PM had earlier investigated. All these again are in the Hansard. To me, this is a very clear example that the Government upholds the Rule of Law and ensures that it is fully observed by all. It shows that the honesty and integrity of Ministers and public servants is zealously safeguarded, not only in words but also in deed. What is the NCMP talking about? In fact, I will say that the NCMP insults Singaporeans by alleging that the Rule of Law does not prevail in Singapore because this Government which stands on the Rule of Law has been repeatedly re-elected in 10 general elections since 1959.
He also says that the Government is a mafia. I think he used that word "mafia". I must say that I am very surprised. This is really absurd. Singaporeans are being led by a mafia organisation! All of us here are members of the mafia! Foreigners are coming here to live, some wanting to be part of the Singapore family as permanent residents or as citizens. Why? Because they also want to join the mafia. I hope Mr Jeyaretnam will have a bit more sense. Another example where the Rule of Law prevails in Singapore is what Senior Minister, who was then Prime Minister, said in the House in January 1988, in respect of rumours and allegations of impropriety
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concerning the previous Attorney-General: "Every allegation made against any official of corrupt, illegal or improper conduct or action will be investigated. The fact that the official complained against is the Attorney-General, the highest legal officer in charge of investigation, will not prevent such investigations." The Senior Minister added that the allegations had been investigated and were proven unfounded. But he also said that if they had been substantiated, the Attorney-General would have to face the consequences. So no one, not even the Attorney-General who has the discretion to prosecute cases under the Constitution, something which Mr Jeyaretnam I am sure, will embrace with his heart, is exempt from investigation and prosecution. Of course, our laws are tough against criminals and wrong doers. We do have laws which allow preventive detention without trial, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, for example. There is a sunset clause and every five years we come before this House to justify why it should be continued. Indeed, even for the other laws such as the ISA and the Misuse of Drugs Act, they have been fully debated in this House. The last time I think it was debated by Mr Chiam and DPM Lee when DPM Lee explained very clearly why the ISA was still needed today. Mr Jeyaretnam calls for the repeal of these laws. Will he be responsible if we repeal
these laws and secret societies start infiltrating into Singapore? Of course, he would not be because he is just an NCMP. But the Government, the Minister for Home Affairs and myself, as his No. 2, will have to be responsible. I will tell Mr Jeyaretnam why preventive detention laws are important. I have explained it many times before. In the case of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, we are dealing with triads, secret societies. Witnesses are fearful to testify in open court. So we have to act decisively. Having said this, does it mean therefore that the Rule of Law does not prevail? Does it therefore mean that there are no safeguards? Mr Jeyaretnam must look at the Hansard in detail because I remember very clearly, many times, not just once, including the last time when I moved the Bill to continue the CLTPA for another five years, setting out all the safeguards, including advisory boards. The fact is that for the ISA, there is an advisory board headed by a Supreme Court judge and two prominent members of the public. If they disagree with the Minister's decision to continue detaining the detainee, it goes to the President who will then exercise his discretion. Is Jeyaretnam looking at all these safeguards? Our penalties can of course be harsh in some cases, but this is necessary. This is again not against Articles 9 or 12 that Mr Jeyaretnam is wont to raise. These are all done legally and carefully drafted by our AttorneyGeneral's Chambers. And of course, all are subject to the requirements of the Constitution and all coming to this House to be debated and passed. The courts interpret the laws and apply the laws so that citizens can live in safety. I was quite surprised when the NCMP said that the court's right of review can be excluded. Yes, for a few important statutes, like the ISA, judicial review has been curtailed. But judicial administrative actions to the court, whether it is mandamus or prohibition or certiorari are always available to a person who is aggrieved. The important point is that we must have courts which are independent. Mr Chiam has already said that he believes the courts are competent and
independent. They must be fair and they must apply the laws fairly. That is an important safeguard. Or is Mr
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Jeyaretnam insinuating also that this safeguard does not prevail in Singapore? That our courts cannot be trusted to apply the laws fairly? Mr Jeyaretnam: Do not put words into my mouth. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Well, you have done that before to me. Sir, the other point is that our law enforcement agencies take a professional, no-nonsense approach in tackling crime. Mr Chiam does the police a disservice. The police do not take orders from the political masters. The police exercise professional judgment in whatever they do. Mr Low, for example, has been quoted in the Straits Times where he said that he finds no reason to say that Government departments discriminate against --Mr Chiam See Tong: Point of clarification. Mr Speaker: Are you giving way? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee resumed his seat. Mr Chiam See Tong: On Saturday, 20th November 1999, I was deprived of my freedom of speech. I was not allowed to speak. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I will deal with that. Mr Chiam See Tong: But on the next day, on Sunday, 21st November, my opponent at Potong Pasir, a prospective candidate for the PAP, Mr Andy Gan, was allowed to speak in the public function. So my question is: has he been given permission to speak under the Public Entertainments Act? Was he given permission? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Mr Chiam complains about not having been given a licence to speak at a function that was in the open. The event was the 6th anniversary of the SPP. He had applied, in fact, initially just for karaoke. That was on 15th October. Later on, on 27th October, a new
application was submitted, this time saying speeches would be made. This will definitely turn the event into something not quite the same as the original function. Therefore, police looked anew at his application on 27th October, and within the three weeks which is stipulated, which police has said they will try to process all applications, gave Mr Chiam his reply on 15th November, which still gave him five or six clear days to organise the event. That is the point. Otherwise, if we do not clarify this, Mr Chiam will think that police is being unfair to the Opposition. Indeed, there was another event. In 1998 --Mr Chiam See Tong: The Minister of State said the police gave five or six days, which is enough to organise the event. We have got 83 tables and we have got over 800 people coming. Does he think that five days would be enough? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: There are two things Mr Chiam can do. He can either submit earlier, which means that the reply will come earlier, or surely he does not wait till the permit comes before doing everything. I would ask Mr Chiam whether this is something new. The SPP, and before that the SDP when he led it, had submitted many applications before for indoor talks. Speeches were made and all these have been approved. He knows that, because this is the stated procedure, stated policy. If political parties want to
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hold talks outdoors, whether it is PAP or SPP, the answer will be no. In fact, we have stated this in Parliament before. Mr Low Thia Khiang had an exchange in 1992 with Prof. Jayakumar on this point, and Mr Simon Tay raised the question on the procedures for applying for a PEL, and certainly in the media where Government gave out many statements explaining why for political parties an outdoor permit will not be given. So Mr Chiam knows. He was fishing. He was hoping for the best. But he knows that, given the current policy which is stated and known to all, he will probably not get permission to speak. Now he wants to make a song and dance about it. Mr Chiam See Tong: Point of clarification. I have been an MP for 15 years.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Can I go on? Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, Prof. Ho is not giving way. Can you continue, Prof. Ho? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: So what is the result of our approach to law and order? Our approach is that we have a Singapore which is safe, a Singapore which people feel they have a home, which people feel that they can raise children in and one in which they can walk the streets at night safely. Having said this, there are also specific internal guidelines to ensure that, whether it is the police or other law enforcement agencies, there will be no abuse. This has been very clear because, yes, there have been black sheep. But do we cover up the black sheep? Government does not cover up the black sheep. Indeed, if the police themselves, as they have done, uncover wrongdoing among their ranks, they will pursue investigations and prosecutions to the end. That is the assurance the Minister and I have given to Singaporeans, that we do not cover up wrongdoing and black sheep will be exposed. That is the Rule of Law. The other point about the Rule of Law is that an independent, impartial and efficient judiciary will ensure that the laws which are passed will apply to all. It will also ensure that the laws which are passed are also constitutional. I think Mr Jeyaretnam has raised this point. Yes, of course, our laws must be subject to the Constitution because the Constitution is the overriding document that sets the framework upon which the other laws stand. I thank Mr Simon Tay for enumerating the many cases where those who have been aggrieved have mounted challenges in our courts, filing administrative actions and some succeeded. Indeed, in a recent case, Standsfield Business International Pte Ltd against Minister for Manpower, the court, in fact, accepted the complainant's argument that the Ministry's enquiry failed to comply with the rules of natural justice. So the plaintiff won the case against the Government. I am afraid the NCMP is mired in the past. He has not realised that Singapore,
the PAP, and the civil service are moving on with fast changing times, something the NCMP most evidently cannot cope with. S21 vividly captures the Government's approach. As for the civil service, PS21 sets the tone. Even our courts have moved on. Because if you look at what the courts have done, they have introduced many innovations. They have also reached out to the public through exhibitions, seminars and talks. This is also an important aspect of the Rule of Law - that Singaporeans know what the law is all about; Singaporeans know how their rights are governed by the laws. They know how to find these laws - statute books which are available, can be bought, can be read in the library. And they also know where they can
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have their legal rights aired, which is our courts. The Subordinate Courts, in fact, have done a marvellous job. The Subordinate Courts have been held up as a model by the World Bank. And the Subordinate Courts have introduced many innovations so that citizens are involved in the law, for example, family conferencing, multidoor court house. These are all examples. That is an important aspect of the Rule of Law. The next point I would not go into it very much. But this point has also been mentioned by other speakers, particularly Mr Tay who mentioned the polls that show that Singapore has a very high standing with regard to the Rule of Law. I have mentioned this before in this House. The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, World Economic Forum, and other polls show that both foreigners and Singaporeans believe that we have good judicial and legal systems, fair administration of justice. And this is not just from businessmen because polls conducted in Singapore among Singaporeans and foreigners also underscore this belief and trust. So there you have it. Sir, let me conclude. By this motion, Mr Jeyaretnam implies that our Ministers and public officials get away with breaking the law. Any such insinuation impugns the integrity of Parliament which passes these laws, judges who apply the laws and the AG who enforces these laws. This is entirely unfair. In a recently concluded
debate in this House on the President's Address, not one speaker attacked Singapore's key institutions, such as our judges and civil servants, a point highlighted by Mr Davinder Singh in his closing speech. Indeed, the Government has vigorously defended the integrity of our judges when Opposition politicians in courting foreign support had cast aspersions on it. A good example was a motion that we debated in 1995 on the independence and integrity of Singapore's Judiciary. And also the AG. The House has taken great pains - the Minister for Law has done this - to explain to this House the role of the AG, why he exercises independent judgement when he wears his hat as the Public Prosecutor, which he is constitutionally required to do, something which I am sure Mr Jeyaretnam will also fly his flag very high for. And that is why when he issued a considered statement to say that the Ministers in the last Cheng San GRC general election did not violate the law, he meant it. Because his readiness to issue an open statement means that he is prepared to stand by that statement, not just to this House, but to other jurists around the world. So the integrity of the AG is something which is also very important which Mr Jeyaretnam impugns. Because if he says that people get away with breaking the law, the Government gets away with double standards, then he is also impugning the integrity of the Attorney-General. Therefore, Sir, let no one doubt that the NCMP is making a serious but absurd and baseless charge by tabling this motion. And one can only conclude that by doing this, the NCMP is really craving for publicity. Sir, as I have said earlier, it is regretted that the NCMP has all these years habitually made baseless allegations against the Government for not observing the Rule of Law. This motion is yet another example. Sir, this motion must be soundly defeated. Mr Chiam See Tong: I would like to get a clarification from the Minister of State. If I heard him correctly, he says there
would be no more political speeches in open public functions. Is that right?
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Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: It is the current policy, except in athletic stadiums. That we allow, but not in open areas. Mr Chiam See Tong: But, Sir, as far as I am concerned, as MP for Potong Pasir, I have never been refused permission to speak in public in open public functions. This is the first time permission has been refused, and freedom of speech deprived. Yet, as I said earlier, Mr Andy Gan, who is the prospective candidate for the PAP, was allowed to speak in public the day after I was refused permission. The Minister is very proud of Singapore's record of the Rule of Law. If this is not flouting of the Rule of Law, I do not know what it is. Why is an elected MP not allowed to speak but a prospective candidate is allowed to speak? Why is that so? Is that not double standards? Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Sir, as I have said, a PAP politician who speaks at a party function --Mr Chiam See Tong: Or public function. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: --- he will have to apply for a licence. And if it is in the open, it will be refused. So I am surprised Mr Chiam says that he had spoken in the past in the open. Mr Chiam See Tong: Yes. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: As a politician? Mr Chiam See Tong: Yes. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Without a permit? Mr Chiam See Tong: With a permit. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: With a permit. He must give me the instances. Then the police officers are not doing their job. Mr Low Thia Khiang: I was not given a permit.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: We can look into it, if Mr Chiam could give me the instances why Police has been so generous in not following the policy. The other point is that when Mr Gan spoke, he was not speaking at a party function. He was speaking at a grassroots' function. I am sure Mr Chiam knows the difference. Mr Speaker: Are we still going to go on? I think you have made your point already, Mr Chiam. We have other speakers. Mr Chiam See Tong: I am worried about what the Minister of State has said that from now on, no Opposition politicians are allowed to speak in public, in an open public function.
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Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I think Mr Chiam might have spoken in the past. Mr Chiam See Tong: Yes, I had. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: In events organised by the Town Council. Mr Chiam See Tong: Yes, Town Council. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: That is not a function organised by the SPP. So there you have it. Please, your ears must be open. Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think with all the isolated incidents that have been mentioned by Mr Chiam and Mr Jeyaretnam, they have detracted actually from the rather broader motion that has been put forward, which is really that we should look at the function of the Rule of Law in Singapore. Sir, the Rule of Law is a fundamental constitutional doctrine. I believe it is deeply valued in Singapore. In fact, more than that, I believe it is internalised in the culture of the public service. Mr Jeyaretnam, of course, mentioned just now the concept by Dicey, and it is not a very accepted concept these days. There have been quite a number of writers who have developed it. And I think since he has mentioned it, perhaps I would take a couple of minutes just to update Mr
Jeyaretnam and the House as to how the Rule of Law concept is usually talked about these days. It is usually talked about with a little bit more focus. Broadly speaking, and this is the Diceyian concept, it means that the people are governed by law and not by arbitrary or capricious force. But more narrowly, and I think it is a concept that applies to this debate today, it refers to the doctrine that guides authorities into making decisions that are reasonable and in the public interest. Decisions of public officers are open, rational assessment and justified on the basis of our shared values. The best way perhaps to look at the Rule of Law today is to enumerate some of the fundamental principles that it represents. Some of them actually have been mentioned by Mr Jeyaretnam, Mr Simon Tay and others. But I would just like to consolidate the thoughts on this matter. The first is that, which I think everyone would agree with, in fact I think they would agree with all, all laws are prospective, stable, properly and constitutionally enacted. That is a principle of the Rule of Law. Second --The Leader of the House (Mr Wong Kan Seng): Prof. Chin, may I just interject here. I think we all enjoy listening to your lecture. So can you please direct your lecture to all of us and look at us, and not look back at Mr Jeyaretnam? Mr Speaker: All right. Continue. Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: I will do that certainly. All laws are prospective, stable, properly and constitutionally enacted. The application of laws, the making of legal orders by public officers should be guided by clear and general rules, that is, avoiding any personal bias or favour, treating equal cases equally, making decisions rationally and in the public interest, and in accordance with the written laws of the land. In this particular instance, on this principle, I want to refer back
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to Mr Jeyaretnam's original introduction when he said that a government that acts by decree is not acting under the
Rule of Law. I do not have any objection to that if you say a government acts only by decree without any circumscribing of such decrees by other laws. But it would be wrong to think that is the situation in Singapore. In this particular principle where you have laws, obviously such laws must be applied and obviously the laws are applied by public officers who make legal orders. If these legal orders are substantiated by subsidiary legislation, if this subsidiary legislation is sanctioned by parent Acts, by the primary legislation, then any order issuing from it would be legitimate and would comply with the Rule of Law. And, if anyone is unhappy with that, there is always the next aspect or principle of the Rule of Law, and that is, that the judiciary has the power and the authority to review any administrative action. So that is the third principle. The final principle, which is already mentioned by a number of Members, is that the judiciary must be independent and the courts should be generally accessible to all who seek recourse to them. I think all of us in this House, Mr Jeyaretnam and Mr Chiam included, would not dispute this principle that is the foundation perhaps of the modern Rule of Law. Sir, this is by no means a complete list of principles but, I believe, they constitute the more important principles of what we are talking about today. We can examine these principles one by one and see how the Government of Singapore measures up to these, but that would be unnecessary in the light of what the Minister of State has mentioned. He has enumerated a number of instances where clearly we have abided by all these principles. In the case of laws laid before Parliament, it is quite obvious to all of us, including the Opposition Members who participate in debate and sometimes participate more than we would like, but no doubt expected, time given between the First Reading and the Second Reading is more than sufficient to allow Members to prepare for the debate. Procedures of Parliament are inherited from the Westminster model which, I am sure, Mr
Jeyaretnam would like, cannot be faulted. All legislation, including the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, is passed after due deliberation. As for the civil service, the Minister of State for Law has already told this House more than once, and in fact just now, how the Rule of Law is observed from top to bottom, from the Minister, to use Mr Jeyaretnam's words, to the most junior constable. These examples show that at the very least, a deep commitment to the principles of the Rule of Law. In fact, we all know that the penchant for Singapore civil servants to follow rules and principles is well known, not just in Singapore, but overseas. There are jokes about Singapore civil servants following rules. The more popular one has to do with two Singapore civil servants being marooned on a desert island with a pretty lady and they did not know what to do except to put a message in a bottle and float back for further instructions. This is the sort of picture that we have of the Singapore civil service. It suggests, it more than suggests, it emphasises the fact that the culture of the Rule of Law is deeply rooted in the public service. In fact, recently, the public service aspires to do even more. The Rule of Law is the primary point from which it starts. It aspires to be even more responsive to the people. It seeks to help rather than to hinder and such an attitude must of course be welcomed. As far as the courts are concerned, we have no question on that. All are agreed in this House that the
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quality of justice is high, and that we have not just local recognition of the quality of justice but also of international recognition. There are now in place various means for ordinary citizens to obtain justice, not just through the Supreme Court, not just through the Subordinate Courts, but also in the Small Claims Tribunals, Community Mediation Centres, and so on. Access to justice has never been greater. The judicial process, as the NCMP knows, rigorously pursues a rapid settlement of disputes. There, of course, can be room for improvement. For example, it may be necessary to see how legal cost can be
further brought down to a more affordable level and that is an area where all lawyers can help, including the Non-Constituency MP. But now looking at the original motion filed by the Non-Constituency MP and listening to all the speakers that have come before me, there are two main flaws in the motion as it stands and this would detract from its acceptability. The first is actually in the first limb "That this House recognises the Rule of Law .". I think the word "recognises" sets the standard too low. We not only recognise it, it is part of our legal culture, we internalise it, we value it. It follows from what I said about the first limb that the phrase used in the second limb is also wrong, that the Ministers, officials and public servants should be urged to obey the Rule of Law. We have heard the many ways in which the Government has not only observed the Rule of Law but has gone out of its way to promote and internalise it among all civil servants. In other words, this is not the time to urge. This is the time to commend. That is why we have reached the stage of the debate that we should have an amendment to the motion for this debate to proceed further. Sir, I beg to move an amendment to the motion standing in the name of the Non-Constituency MP. I have taken the liberty to ask the Clerk of Parliament to have copies of this amendment which I would ask your permission to distribute to Members in the House. Mr Speaker: All right. The Clerk will distribute the notice of amendment. [Copies of amendment distributed to hon. Members]. Could you move your amendment, Prof. Chin? Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: Yes. Sir, I beg to move the amendment to the NCMP's motion as follows: To delete all the words immediately after "That this House" and substitute with the following words: "(1) values the importance of the Rule of Law; and
(2) commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all." Mr Speaker: It has been proposed as an amendment to leave out from the word "House" in line 1 to the end, and there to insert the words "(1) values the importance of the Rule of Law; and
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(2) commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all." The Question is now the amendment moved by Prof. Chin. Mr Low Thia Khiang rose --Mr Speaker: Can I finish first? Could you please resume your seat? Mr Low, I have to remind you that when the Chair is speaking, you are not allowed to rise. Mr Low Thia Khiang resumed his seat. Mr Speaker: The Question is, "That the words proposed to be left out, be left out." Members who wish to speak now must confine their speech to the amendment. Mr Low Thia Khiang: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am no lawyer. After listening to the lectures, I wonder whether what we are talking and complaining about is the Rule of Law or something which concerns fairness. I have three instances, one of which Mr Chiam has raised about speeches. On the surface of it, advisors to grassroots organisations can speak freely because they are under grassroots organisations. Whereas elected Members of Parliament like us also have committees which deal with grassroots activities but they are not recognised as part of a grassroots organisation, hence the differences between grassroots organisations and events organised by political parties. The policy is such that for events organised by political parties a licence to speak will not be granted. Whereas for grassroots organisations, I believe they do not even need to apply for a licence. In both instances, yes, one is a policy and the other is a provision under the law. The question is whether it
is applied fairly because all advisors to grassroots organisations are allowed to speak. We are not grassroots organisations. So the question is: is this fair? The other instance is an old issue which was debated in Parliament and that concerns the use of HDB premises, for instance, the PCF's use as kindergartens. I remember the rules for granting such premises concessionary rental, that is, you have to register it as a charitable organisation with a paid-up capital of $5 million. So the Opposition cannot fulfil the requirement and thereby under the rule you are not qualified. Is that fair? It is under the law, yes. But my question is: is this fair? The other instance is pasar malam. In the past, my committees were allowed to organise pasar malam but suddenly the rule was changed. Right now, only grassroots organisations or town councils are allowed to organise pasar malams. So there is this change of rule, whether policy or whatever, that disadvantages the Opposition and it concerns the Rule of Law. I leave it to the people in the legal profession to judge. Then, of course, there is this question of what sort of licences are issued. There are people who are worried about whether or not licences are being granted with certain consideration. Many a time the Government departments who grant licences say, "Well, we will consider on a case-by-case basis." What is case-by-case basis? I do not think there is a very clear administrative ruling, in terms of granting licences and other things. The transparency is not good enough. Sir, as regards the amended motion, I agree with point one "values the importance of Rule of Law". My understanding of the Rule of Law is to apply the law fairly to everyone. "Commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all", I am not sure whether or not the
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Government upholds the Rule of Law because my Secretary-General has obviously pointed out that it does not seem to be the case.
Mr Jeyaretnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, you said that any speeches after the amendment was moved must be confined to the amendment. I wish to speak on the amendment, but I also wish to reply to the points raised in my motion because I know what the result will be. The amendment will be passed and I would not have any opportunity to reply to the points raised. So would you give me permission to reply to the points raised? Mr Speaker: Mr Jeyaretnam, I have to insist that you stick to the matter under discussion which is the amendment proposed by Prof. Chin. Mr Jeyaretnam: Then you will give me an opportunity later. Mr Speaker: Yes. Confine yourself right now to the debate on the amendment. Mr Jeyaretnam: All right. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am obliged to you. I have no quarrel with the changing of the word "recognises" to "values". I see that the amendment underscores the importance and the need for the rule of law. I have no objection to that. But I am surprised that thereafter he goes on to amend the rest of the motion by asking this House to commend the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all. It appears to me, Mr Speaker, Sir, that this amendment ignores the realities in Singapore and tries to shut them out and just look at what Prof. Chin wants people to look at. But we have got to be honest and look at the realities in Singapore. If we look at the realities, can we then commend the Government for upholding the Rule of Law? I am obliged to him for his observation that the debate was somehow hijacked by concentrating on instances, rather than looking at the whole principle and whether it is being applied. It is like you are not looking at the wood but just simply looking at one or two trees there. But if you want to commend the Government for upholding the Rule of Law, you have got to answer a number of questions and ask whether the Rule of Law has been observed in the situations that are being looked at.
Prof. Chin again raises, but was already said by Mr Simon Tay, that the laws are properly enacted, passed by Parliament, subsidiary legislation is made under the authority of the parent legislation. We all know that. But the point is, as the Privy Council pointed out in the judgement of Ong Ah Chuan that even an Act of Parliament may violate the Rule of Law if it is completely contrary to the rules of natural justice. Of course, Parliament, which is controlled almost entirely by Members of the Government party, can pass any law according to the Constitution. Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: Clarification, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker: Would you allow Prof. Chin to make a clarification? Mr Jeyaretnam: Bring it up later. Of course, having more than a two-thirds majority, the Constitution can
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be amended at any time. That is why it is absolutely essential in any democratic society that the ruling party should never have more than a two-thirds majority if it wants to have a stable democratic government. It follows without any explanation. Otherwise, it becomes a tyranny, a tyranny by the party which controls Parliament and, of course, we know the situation in Singapore. From 1966 to 1981, it was an entirely PAP Parliament. There was no one from any other party in Parliament. So it was a one party passing laws - yes, strictly following the Constitution, the procedure - but ignoring the fundamental rules of natural justice and saying that they are abiding by the Rule of Law when they passed a Bill, that it has been passed in accordance with the Constitution. That is not compliance with the Rule of Law as the Privy Council tried to point out. After 1981, Parliament continued with a majority of PAP members. And this is the great drawback in Singapore and the one on which the PAP has capitalised, and that is, they go to any length to keep out any Opposition building up in Singapore. That
in itself, to me, is a flagrant violation of the Rule of Law. I will illustrate what I mean by just making reference to the way the elections were conducted. Elections in Singapore are all one-sided. The field is not an even playing field. It will be idle to pretend that we have an even playing field in Singapore when it comes to elections. I have said this before, in many countries, particularly in the Commonwealth countries, that elections are the responsibility of an independent body, that is, the Elections Commission. Do we have an Elections Commission in Singapore? The Opposition parties, I remember, asked for it in the 1970s. Have we got an Elections Commission? No. The elections are run as though it was a matter for the Government, and Government alone. It is run on the decree of the Prime Minister in whose Ministry the Elections Department is put. [Mr Deputy Speaker in the Chair]
5.50 pm So, where is the Rule of Law there to ensure equality to all parties to contest the elections? Straightaway, you have a fundamental breach of the Rule of Law. When you, on your own, decide to re-draw boundaries just because an Opposition has gained a foothold in one constituency, you decide that you will bring it in, put it with other constituencies, ad nauseam change boundaries to ensure that the Opposition is kept out of Parliament. So, that is a glaring instance of a violation of the Rule of Law. And then when it comes to the actual conduct of the elections, I am surprised that no attempt is made to try to answer what I have said in my speech. I mentioned about the conduct of the Government Ministers during an election campaign. Have Members here forgotten how the Government won the constituency of Cheng San? The Parliamentary Elections Act has a provision which says that any elections won by intimidation or bribery of voters is illegal and can be set aside on an election petition. What took place on 1st January 1997? The Prime Minister came to Cheng San,
held a rally and he had only about 2,000 people in front of him and what did he say? Did he say, "You vote
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for the PAP, we are a better party, the Workers' Party cannot be trusted?" That is all in the rules. What did he say to the voters? Please look it up. It was next day headlined in the Straits Times. I will come to that. That was another violation of the Rule of Law. In the front page it said, "PM to voters - all or nothing". And he said, "You vote for the Workers' Party, you would not get anything. Even what you have in the way of any benefits will be taken away from you. But if you vote for us, you will have what you have got and you are going to get more. But if you vote for the Workers' Party, upgrading will cease, you may not get your MRT, trains will not stop here, you would not get your LRT, you would not get your new town, your children may not get good places in schools." If that is not intimidation, I would like to know what is intimidation. That was his threat, all or nothing. We referred this matter for an opinion to a Queen's Counsel in London and he said it was clearly an intimidation and in breach of that section under the Parliamentary Elections Act. PM told the voters that if they did not vote for the PAP, they were going to lose everything. But that is not all. On election day, when the law is that no one, other than the voters, the candidate and his agent, will be allowed into the polling centre, we had the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister driving in, shaking hands with voters queuing up to vote, and going beyond that into the area where they were casting their votes, watching over them. That seemed to us to be a clear breach of the Parliamentary Elections Act which said that no one, other than the voters, the candidate and his agent will be allowed, besides of course the election officials and the police officers to keep the order. If that is not a violation of the Rule of Law, what is it then? May I also refer to the publication by the papers. The Straits Times carried it on their front page. I have no doubt that the Chinese newspapers also carried the same message on their front page. The
New Paper thought that it would go one better. It tabulated, for the benefit of the readers, what they would get and what they would not get, depending on their choice. Vote for the Workers' Party, you would not get this, you would not get that, etc. The Parliamentary Elections Act says that on polling day itself, there shall be no campaigning, there shall be no intimidation, there shall be no forcing of voters and yet, the papers blatantly carried all these on polling day. Was any action taken against the papers? Is that a violation of the Rule of Law or not? And yet, we are asked to commend the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all. I selected the elections because that is the starting point, the main foundation for ensuring that there is a democracy, a properly elected government ruling the country, a government elected by the people with complete freedom to choose their representatives without any fear, without any constraint. Did the Cheng San voters have that freedom? Will you please try and answer that? You have the Prime Minister, not the PAP official. You have the Prime Minister because he was already Prime Minister on nomination day. There was no question that he would be the Prime Minister. He went there and he said this. So what freedom of choice did the Cheng San voters have? Let us be honest and ask this question. Here is the Prime Minister telling you, "I am going to withdraw everything from you." What is more, he told them, "If you vote for us, you'll have a hot line to me. You'll have a hot line to two Deputy Prime Ministers." I have been telling some of the Cheng San voters, "Why do you not ring up the Prime Minister? Ring him up and say, this is the hot line, Mr Prime Minister. Will you listen to me?" and see what response you get. The detention under the Internal Security Act is not answered simply by saying that we may need it. It is justified. The question you have to answer is: does it or does it not violate the Rule of Law? The rule, as I said, was propounded in the 13th century when the Barons said, "No one will be deprived of his liberty
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except by the lawful judgment of the court." Is it or is it not a violation of the Rule of Law? It is no good arguing that it is necessary because you want to keep Singapore safe. If you want to keep Singapore safe, then shoot all criminals. Then perhaps people may not take up to crime. Have summary trials, summary justice, then Singapore will be absolutely safe. But is that what we want in Singapore? So we must look at the picture as a whole. Does detention without trial violate the Rule of Law? Do not just say that it keeps Singapore safe, we will not have any trouble. Let us be honest and say, "No, in Singapore, we do not uphold the Rule of Law. We don't think the Rule of Law really is necessary for our society because we want to keep Singapore safe. So we are going to give our Ministers arbitrary power to keep Singapore safe." Then, at least, the world will know that we are being honest, that we are not interested in the Rule of Law. We have our own way of doing things. But if you keep saying that we observe the Rule of Law, then you have got to ask the question: do we? And if you examine the record of this Government, certainly from 1965 onwards, you will find that this is a Government which, through its Ministers, through its civil servants, especially the law enforcement agencies, has violated the Rule of Law. I have mentioned the instances. But, as I said, you do not just look at it at one instance, two instances. I could go on and explain in detail, but I do not think I will have the time for that. The way Police investigations are carried out violates the Rule of Law; not informing arrested persons of their right, denying them counsel once they are taken into custody for up to three weeks violating the Rule of Law. Yes, you can, of course, say it is necessary. Our police have to investigate, our police have to stamp out crime. So we have got to give them these powers. Let us say we do not want the Rule of Law. For us, it is more important that our officers have the power to get criminals out of the society and, similarly, with other powers of the police.
The amendment ignores the realities in Singapore. It does not look at the situation in Singapore but seeks approval or approbation because Singapore is such a good place. Everyone is happy. Well, that is questionable. But it ignores the realities, because we have got this result. It does not matter about the means. But the means are important. It is not just the end. It is the means which will justify the end, not the end that will justify the means. The other constant theme of Mr Simon Tay and even Prof. Chin is, "Go to the courts, go to the courts." But that is to miss the whole point of the argument. Does Mr Simon Tay know that with the amendment to the Internal Security Act, the courts are now precluded from inquiring into the merits of the detention? Mr Simon Tay: May I clarify? Mr Jeyaretnam: Do that afterwards. This happened after the Court of Appeal in 1989 decided it would no longer follow its past --Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. Mr Jeyaretnam, you have used up your 30 minutes. Mr Simon Tay: Sir, may I speak very briefly on the amendment to the motion. In prefacing my remarks, may I just reply perhaps to the rhetorical question Mr Jeyaretnam asked me.
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Yes, I do understand what the amendments to the ISA have done. In my remarks earlier, I said that I saw this therefore as an exception to the rule of law. Mr Jeyaretnam: Why? Why is it an exception? Mr Simon Tay: That is why I argued about my own experience in recognising some of the realities. And I must point out to the NCMP, Mr Jeyaretnam, that his position is inconsistent, because while he says he is against the ISA on a principle of the Rule of Law, he has not recommended, in his speech, the abandonment of the Misuse of Drugs Act, simply some more safeguards. And that is inconsistent.
It is only consistent if he looked at the realities, which means to say case by case. Let me turn to the amendment to the motion. May I just ask two points of clarification from the Member for Sembawang GRC, Prof. Chin. This is with regard to the second leg of the amendment. In commending the Government for upholding the Rule of Law, does this amendment suggest that the courts have had no or very limited role in holding the Rule of Law? Secondly, in suggesting that the Rule of Law is fully observed by all, is this amendment suggesting that Singapore is somehow perfect? Because, if either of these suggestions are there, which I hope they are not, then I am afraid I cannot agree with this motion. While Singapore has a good record, it is by no means perfect and can be improved upon further. Secondly, if we do have a good record, it is not only the Government that has observed this and made it possible. They have had a role but it is also the role of the courts and other institutions of this country. Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: Sir, since Mr Tay has asked about the amended motion, may I just make a couple of points. Commending the Government in relation to that aspect of the Rule of Law which relates to the importance of public servants abiding by rationality, following proper legislation and orders, it is, as I have said just now, not the only aspect of the Rule of Law that exists. I have mentioned, and I think the Minister of State has also mentioned, that it is quite clear that our courts also deserve to be commended for the good work that it has done in ensuring the Rule of Law in Singapore. But if you look at the original motion, the emphasis is on the public servants and the public officers, and that is why the amended motion follows very closely that aspect. As to your second point --Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. Prof. Chin, can you address your points to the Chair?
Assoc. Prof. Chin Tet Yung: I beg your pardon, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. In ensuring that it is fully observed by all, that is an expression of an intention, an expression of the expectation that the Government would ensure that all public servants obey and observe the Rule of Law, and it is no more than what it says. I hope that clarifies the situation for Mr Tay. Mr Wong Kan Seng: Sir, I did not originally intend to speak but having listened to this long and rambling speech by Mr Jeyaretnam, I think I should say a few words, lest he gets away with thinking that he is always
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right when he is always wrong. I am no doctor, no lawyer, just a Minister. Common sense tells me and sometimes I read journals and what may interest me. I know that as we get older, our short-term memory gets worse. Our long-term memory is always there. So Mr Jeyaretnam recalls all these past instances and selectively remembers certain things and conveniently forgets others that he has learnt over the years. When he quotes certain instances, he has forgotten all the answers that have been given in this House or that have been replied to in other forums. He just completely ignores them or conveniently forgets them. The few examples he gave in this half-an-hour of additional time that he has as a result of this amendment boiled down to three or four points. The first point he made was that in a democracy the Government should not have more than two-thirds majority, otherwise it is not a democracy. I do not know by whose definition it is for this particular term of democracy that the Government should not have more than a two-thirds majority. When you have a democratic system, in our case a system that allows the people to elect and choose a government every five years, they decide who they want to govern them. We know that the people have decided, since 1959, that the People's Action Party is the party they want to govern Singapore. Except for the initial years, we have got more than two-thirds majority
since. That is the wish of the people, not the wish of the PAP. From 1965 till 1981, when Mr Jeyaretnam first came to this House and made a big song and dance about it, those were the years when the PAP had total control of this House and in all policy-decision making. Of course, he would say, "One party, and therefore oppressive and bad for the people." But the records say otherwise. Over those few years, despite the difficulties we faced and the issues we had to deal with, despite some people who wanted to down Singapore, we have succeeded. We have succeeded because of the policies that we have formulated, the ways we have implemented them and the ways the people have supported them. They knew quite well in their hearts that this Government delivers whatever it promises. While we had complete control in this House, we did not abuse it. In fact, we have had some of our older colleagues play the role of the Opposition to counter, challenge and criticise our policies to make sure that we were not all of the same mind, moving in one direction regardless of whether the policies were right or wrong. We moved on and we succeeded. In 1981, Mr Jeyaretnam came to the House. What additional contribution did he make? I think the record is there for people to see. In 1984, Mr Chiam came to this House. In 1991, four Opposition MPs came to this House. I think the people had enough. In one term, the people recognised some of them were just not competent enough to serve them and two of them are no longer in this House. That is the kind of Opposition we have. So when Mr Jeyaretnam is unable to get more people to support him, and unable to attract the right people to work with him, do not blame it on the People's Action Party or the Government. He should only blame it on himself. Mr Jeyaretnam became the Secretary-General of the Workers' Party since 1972. Mr Jeyaretnam: 1971.
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Mr Wong Kan Seng: 1971. What has changed in the Workers' Party since? What new people are there? Of course, Mr Low Thia Khiang is a rare find. But that is a rarity in the Workers' Party. What else do we have in the Workers' Party? What sort of people do they produce? Where are they election after election? Look at the People's Action Party in 1971. Look at the people we had in 1971. How many of them are here except Senior Minister? Who else? 1976? A few more are still around. But every term we have got new people because we are able to attract them. Because we are inclusive and able to accommodate all views and take them into account and that we have to stay relevant in order to gain the people's support. That is how we have got here. It is not because of anything else. It is only because of the programmes and manifestos that we have. At every election we say, "This is the People's Action Party wanting to serve you again. This is what we will do for you if we are in charge." What is wrong with that? It is the job of every political party to win the election, including the Workers' Party, SDP, SPP and SP, and what have you. But the unfortunate part about it is that apart from the People's Action Party, none of them has any concrete programme to offer the people. When the PAP said, "If you vote for us, this is what we will do.", Mr Jeyaretnam says, "This is intimidation." Is it? But Mr Jeyaretnam is not a political novice. He is supposed to be an experienced Secretary-General of the Workers' Party since 1971, for almost 28 years. This is the reality of politics. Every political party everywhere in the world has a political programme for the people. When they are in charge, they implement them. If they do their jobs well, they will be re-elected. If they bluff the people and cannot deliver on their promises, they will be out very fast, like the SDP MPs. They could not perform and they were out. That is the reality. So despite his long years of experience in politics and some years in this House, he is not realistic. That is the unfortunate part of it. So the half-an-hour when I was there sitting and listening to him is a very
painful exercise. It is painful to me because listening to him we hear the same thing over and over again. The man has not got out of the past when the past is long past. What we have now is the present going to the next millennium, and we are talking of the Internet world. But if he operates by the old system and thinks in the old way, he will never progress. Certainly, he will not. Does he mean that by having an Elections Commission it will do wonders to the Workers' Party? I doubt it. Look at some other countries where they have Elections Commissions. What have they become in some of them? In fact, I do not think the system has run very well in some of them, despite whatever systems they may have. Our Election Department runs a small outfit. Every four or five years, and now with the Presidential Election works, we get the people in the civil service to support and help as Returning Officers, etc. That is the kind of structure we have over the years and it has worked. If he says that it is intimidation because we offer people a programme and that the Election Department is unfair because they are not in charge, there is one route for him, that is, to take it to the courts on an Elections Petition. If he says he has a QC's opinion that what we did the last time was a violation of the law, then the right place to take it to is to the courts, apply to the Election Judge and take up a petition. That is the way, if he really believes in the Rule of Law. What else can it be, if he believes in the Rule of Law? To take a gun and shoot people, like he says? No, certainly that is not the way to do things. The matter is really this. Over these years, people have seen the PAP. They have compared the PAP with all the other parties and they know that the PAP has delivered and that is why they elected us time and again. If we tell the newspapers, "No, you cannot summarise the issues, and you cannot report the eve of polling
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day speeches.", Mr Jeyaretnam's complaint will be, "Why is there a blackout? Why are you blacking it out and not telling people what the programmes are?" If you do not have a programme, there is
nothing for the newspapers to publicise. We have a programme and therefore the newspapers publicise us. That is certainly not our fault. Does the ISA violate the Rule of Law? I think both Mr Simon Tay and Prof. Chin and my Minister of State have said no. The Constitution itself says that Parliament may make any law that ensures national security. If that is against the law, take it up in the courts, unless Mr Jeyaretnam says we cannot trust our courts. Is he saying that? If so, say so. Call a spade a spade. Do not mumbo-jumbo and say all kinds of things and not get to the point. We had four cases of ISA arrests which were mentioned to this House when the question was asked by Mr Simon Tay. We do not just keep people unnecessarily. If they are no longer a security threat they will be out. There is no reason to detain them. But if they were a threat and they have not cooperated and told us everything, they will be detained. As a result, of the four cases, two have already been released because they have been level with the Internal Security Department and have recanted. They have explained their role and now they are no longer a threat and therefore they were released. The other two are still being detained because they have not been fully honest with us. The other point that he talked about is police investigation. Mr Jeyaretnam is a lawyer. I am only the Minister overseeing a department of police officers. If they have violated the law, Mr Jeyaretnam, who has represented many cases, would have won them, would he not? But I am sure of the results of that. All I know is that when police investigates, they follow the rules and the law. They go to the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General sanctions it before it goes to prosecution. The success rate in prosecution is pretty high. But that does not mean that every case prosecuted will be successful. The court has, from time to time, found it justified that either the case was not properly investigated or there was no case and therefore threw it out. That is the Rule of Law in application. We must look at it, as Mr Jeyaretnam says, in perspective,
take the whole picture. But, unfortunately, he could only say, "Look at the whole picture", when in effect he only looks at the tree. That is the unfortunate part and very painful to me. Mr Jeyaretnam: May I, by way of clarification, put two questions to the Minister. Is it or is it not intimidation for the Prime Minister of the country to come and tell voters that if they vote for the Opposition party, his Government will deny them everything? Is it or is it not intimidation? I told him that a Queen's Counsel is of the view that it is intimidation. Will he answer that question? Secondly, is the Minister aware, perhaps he does not bother to read anything that the Workers' Party put out, that the Workers' Party had a manifesto outlining all the areas of Government and outlining the Workers' Party's proposals and programmes? If he has not read it, it is not our mistake. Of course, the papers would not give it prominence but do not make an accusation that we did not have a programme or a manifesto. I will produce it to you and will you please produce to us the manifesto that the PAP put out during the elections. Was it in a book form, a comprehensive one, containing all the policies that will be implemented, the programmes of the party? I have not seen anything. So will he please let us have that and I will give him mine. Mr Wong Kan Seng: Sir, again he says the PM has intimidated the voters. The PM says, "These are my programmes. If you vote for me, this is what you get. If you vote for the Opposition, this is what you will not
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get from me." I think that is fair. Why? Because it is our programme, you vote for me, I give you my programme. If you vote for the Opposition programme, and if I still give you my programme, then I must be stupid! Cannot be, is it not? If we are stupid, we would not be here. Workers' Party has a manifesto. Yes, I am aware of that manifesto. But if people do believe in the manifesto, if they trust you to deliver Column: 622
Mr Jeyaretnam: You said the Opposition Party had no manifesto, no programme. Those were your words. Mr Wong Kan Seng: Let us not quibble about whether you have or you do not have. Assuming that you have, and I believe that you have --Mr Jeyaretnam rose. Mr Deputy Speaker: Order, order. Mr Wong Kan Seng: And I believe I have seen it too, what difference does it make? You are not in charge of the Government. If you have not read the PAP's, too bad! Mr Low Thia Khiang: Clarification, Sir. Is the Minister saying that whatever Opposition has, because we are not in charge of the Government, even if we can bring up whatever programme, it will be useless? And the PAP is capitalising itself on its position as the Government to say that because it is in charge, it will give the people everything that this Government has. But where does the money of the Government come from? The people. If you do not vote for me, I will not give you, whether it is the programme of the PAP as a party or the programme of the Government. Are you saying that the Secretary-General of PAP can go to the voters and say, "Well, I am the Secretary-General. I can give you."? I wonder whether a person, who becomes the Prime Minister of a country, should behave as though he is the Secretary-General of the ruling party. Is he looking after the interests of the Party or looking after the interests of the nation? Mr Wong Kan Seng: Sir, I think these are fine points that we are debating. If the PAP is in charge, we are the Government. Over the last 40 years, we have been the Government. Whatever that were accumulated is a result of this Government's policies, and that is a fact and a reality. So when we make a promise and say, "Well, you elect us, we will do this for you, we will carry out our programme." And for the last 9 or 10 terms, this is what we have been doing. That is a reality. We are not politically naive as that, surely.
Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, listening to the debate in this House over the motion and the amendment, I was reminded of this story. Two housewives went to the market and they saw a rather big fish. They were arguing about how long it was. Housewife A said, "Well, I have got a way to determine this." And she pulled out a string, measured the fish and then compared it to her arm, and she said, "It is about 50 cm." Whereupon housewife B said, "No, it is not." She took a look and she said, "It is 49.74 cm." Whereupon housewife A said, "How did you know? How can you be so accurate?" And housewife B replied, "Ruler, lor."
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Sir, as we debate what Rule of Law means in this House and whether we value it or not, I think sometimes we must be clear that we know what we are talking about. We cannot be inexact and flawed in our definition of what Rule of Law is. We cannot take a string and say this is what I think Rule of Law is. I do believe that Mr J B Jeyaretnam who has spoken extensively acknowledges that there is Rule of Law. The only problem he has is that this Rule of Law, because it is so well upheld by the Government, he has to re-define it. And he very cleverly uses a case from the Privy Council to say, yes, Rule of Law does not mean written law; yes, we have obeyed the written law. But besides the written law, there is something called the rules of natural justice. Speaking as a lawyer, I think it is indeed true that there are rules of justice which are part of the laws of Singapore, and we do not deny that. Perhaps the debate is so esoteric a topic, that it is the reason why most of the speakers in this House so far have been lawyers. But let me just give a graphic illustration of what Rule of Law is and is not. If you talk about Rule of Law, it is the exact opposite of law of the ruler. Rule of Law means the law decides what you can do, what you as a ruler can do. Law of the ruler means what I say as a ruler, that is law. In some countries around us, we have read the newspapers, it makes headlines when a ruler stops at the traffic lights. Because in that country, the Rule of Law is
so abused and violated that when finally a ruler does stop at a traffic light, it is news! I think what would be news in Singapore would be a Minister or an MP shooting the red light. That is breaking the law, and they will be taken to court, I am quite sure, if that happens. So Mr J B Jeyaretnam finds nothing wrong with the law, and nothing wrong with our application of it. Mr Low Thia Khiang: May I have a point of clarification? Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat: I am not giving him the floor. It gives me concern that his flawed definition would therefore mislead those in the House who are not lawyers, and mislead the public who are not lawyers. When we talk about the ISA, he cites that as an example of the breach of the Rule of Law. But if you look at the principles of the Rule of Law, and particularly at the principles of natural justice, natural justice requires essentially two basic principles. One is that you have the right to be heard and to explain your case, and, two, is the right to equal treatment. A right to have your case heard also means that there is a review. As the Minister of State has mentioned, even in the ISA we have got Advisory Boards that review the cases and recommend to the President whether the detention is to be upheld or not. So we do have rules of natural justice applied. There are appeals possible and there are reviews possible. And as Mr Simon Tay has mentioned, there are courts that would review our decisions and the decisions of administrators. Mr Low Thia Khiang has said that there is a difference between the policy and the law. Perhaps there is, perhaps there is not. But if a policy is made and it is in contravention of the law, the courts will strike it out. The Ministers would never have allowed it if they realise it is in violation of the law. Nonetheless, if Queen's Counsel or any esteemed lawyers have given an opinion to the Opposition that things are otherwise, they should test it out in the courts, and our courts are independent,
and the Opposition does admit it. And we have examples. Mr Simon Tay has mentioned examples of how the courts have actually ruled against the Government. So there is natural justice, and we must not say that
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there is not. Mr Jeyaretnam chides the House and certain Members of the House, and I do believe he does chide the Members of the Opposition too, both from his party and from the Singapore People's Party, saying that they are just hijacking the debate from this high abstract concept of natural justice to instances, isolated instances, I must say. And isolated instances may sometimes prove a point, but I agree with Mr J B Jeyaretnam here that we should not look at isolated instances but look at the whole wood. Having said that, however, he goes on ad infinitum on an isolated case and isolated cases. I would say that natural justice requires that the courts are independent and impartial and nobody in this House has disagreed with that. So the ruler does not decide what the law means. It is the court, independent of the ruler, who decides what it means, and that to me, Sir, is the Rule of Law. I would say also that Mr J B Jeyaretnam's arguments are flawed. For example, he says that we should put the CPIB and the Police under, I do not know what, but away from the Government. Mr Jeyaretnam: Out of political control. Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat: Out of political control. Out of the hands of the political masters, he says. He forgets that if the Police are not accountable to anybody and if they are not checked by anybody, then it will be a Police state beyond what he can imagine. It will no longer be Rule of Law. At least, under the political masters, the political masters are subject to checks, and there are very clear checks. One is that the courts can say, you are out of order, you cannot do this. And the courts have done that, as I have said. Two, every five years or less, they go to the ballot box. And if they have systematically abused the law and the system,
they would not be elected, they would be chucked out, and we have not seen that happen yet to the People's Action Party. So I do not believe that the population thinks that there is a blatant disregard for the Rule of Law. Mr J B Jeyaretnam thinks that an Elections Commission would solve all these problems. Perhaps he thinks that with an Elections Commission, the Workers' Party would be a ruling party. I do not think so. The people finally decide, whether it is an Elections Commission or not. But the Elections Commission is not the cure because, if it was, as Mr Wong has pointed out, then there are many countries that have Elections Commissions - they should not be having the problems they are having. And we have got examples recently on this. Mr J B Jeyaretnam would, I am sure, say that the United States of America is a prime example of the Rule of Law. I would say that if he thinks so, and I know he has said this in not so many words before, that the country is a prime example of the Rule of Law. Perhaps he forgets that even in a country like that, we have got Presidents who have been taken to task for breaching the Rule of Law. The Iran contra affair during the Reagan's years is one example. And President Nixon had to resign because of another breach of law. Mr Jeyaretnam: He had to face the law. Assoc. Prof. Toh See Kiat: Exactly. That is my point, Sir. That where you have a Rule of Law, a country that has respect for the Rule of Law, it is not whether the system is perfect or not. Nobody says our system is perfect. But it is what we do when there is a breach of the Rule of Law, and governments get knocked out. Actually Reagan did not get knocked out, but that is another story. Governments get voted out and they get imprisoned if they have very blatantly broken the law. So as far as I am concerned, the Elections Commission, the absence or presence of it, does not equal Rule of Law. So we have done what we could.
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The Government has done what it has to do to make the Rule of Law well respected among Ministers, civil servants and all parties that uphold the law in Singapore.
Mr J B Jeyaretnam has got some complaints about how the newspapers deal with his Party. Sir, the last time I checked, the editors of the Straits Times and Zaobao had not occupied the Istana yet. They are not the Government. They should not be brought into this debate which we are now debating, and that is, that we commend the Government for upholding the Rule of Law. Sir, I must add that perhaps if you were to look at another way of summarising what we mean by the Rule of Law, it is that the Rule of Law is a situation where laws are fair and transparent and predictable, as Mr Chiam has cleverly put it, in a moment of inspiration perhaps. I do not think that we have problems with this, and I do not think Mr Chiam has problems with this. He has one instance, and I believe that instance came about from a misinterpretation of what the law and the policy said, and so I think he should be better informed now as to how that law or that policy was applied. Sir, instances like that only go to show that we are not perfect. There are things you can do to improve, but certainly we are living in a country where the Rule of Law is supreme and we have to commend our Government for it. We do value the Rule of Law and we hope that Singapore will continue to have the Rule of Law and good governance and keep Singapore in the eyes of the world, almost heaven. Mr Jeyaretnam: May I ask by way of clarification? Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. Mr Jeyaretnam, it is very clear in the Standing Orders when you resort to clarifications. I have always given you the benefit of the doubt when you stand up and go by way of clarification. Mr Jeyaretnam: I am asking by way of clarification. Mr Deputy Speaker: May I remind you that if you do this too often, I shall rule you out of order. It is an abuse of the Standing Orders.
Mr Jeyaretnam: I want to ask him a question by way of clarification on his statement. Mr Deputy Speaker: Carry on. I will decide whether it is a clarification or not. Mr Jeyaretnam: All right. Thank you. The speaker says that in a detention under the ISA, we have an advisory panel or board. Is he saying it has the same powers as a court of law? Does not the rule of natural justice require that a person should not be deprived of his liberty unless he is tried by a court of law and is found guilty on evidence admissible in a court of law? Does it or does it not say so in the rule of natural justice? And is this what happens in an advisory panel hearing? Are witnesses called to substantiate the Government's case? Is the detainee given right to cross-examine and call any witnesses? Is that what he is
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saying? Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. That is not a clarification. Yes, Mr Chiam. Have you spoken? Mr Chiam See Tong: Not on the amendment. Mr Deputy Speaker: All right. Proceed. Mr Chiam See Tong: Sir, I hope I have a moment of inspiration now as I speak. I would like to speak on the amendment to the motion of Mr Jeyaretnam. I wonder why Prof. Chin uses the word "values" rather than "uphold". Sometimes, people value some belief and yet they do not uphold their belief. So I think "uphold" is a better word. Also, he wants the motion to be amended on the second limb "Commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all". I cannot agree with this because of my experience in my constituency. I would like to cite some of the examples where Rule of Law is not observed in my constituency. Sir, some of the Members here may think that that is trivial. When talking of advancement of the Internet, it is probably a small thing to
talk about what happens on the ground. But I can tell you that the battle for each seat here in Parliament is fought at the constituency, on the ground level. So it is important. Prof. Chin also said that if you are not happy, you can always go for a judicial review. But how do you go for a judicial review when a Minister makes a decision not to allow the MP even to plant a tree there? Yes, it happened to me. At that time, one of the members of the public felt that he should present me with a tree because my MP's office was about to be opened, in memory of that. Like a good MP, I wrote to the HDB for permission to plant one tree and they said, "No. Very sorry. It is not included in the planting plan of the constituency. You better write to the Parks and Trees Department." So we wrote. The Parks and Trees Department replied that the earth there was not suitable for this kind of tree. When I read that, I went ahead and planted the tree. So the tree was planted. On that night, somebody came and pulled it out and put it in front of my office. Of course, we planted it back in a pot, just to be safe, but not on the ground. How do we go for a judicial review to get permission to have the right to plant a tree? I do not know how it is done. Maybe somebody should advise me. But to me, this is a political matter and it should be resolved politically. Again, at one time, the PAP was generous enough to give Opposition members a walled-up office at the void deck. I was given one and was very happy and we made good use of it for our meet-the-people sessions. Residents could come in to discuss their personal problems with privacy in the office. But now, I do not have an office. It was torn down and given to somebody else. So we have to hold the meet-the-people session with just a temporary curtain across and very little privacy. We have to speak very softly so that other people could not hear. The office was torn down, so what do I do? Do I go for a judicial review and say, "Look, you have made the decision to give us an office. Now it is torn down. I think the decision is wrong, not properly done.
It is not clear, not rational, not in the public interest. It does not qualify as an appropriate action." Then we have this problem of pasar malams. Pasar malams of course earn for the people who organise it.
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Every time you organise it, you get something like $25,000. The money can be useful for welfare work and promoting your interest at the constituency. But suddenly the rules were changed and we were deprived of holding pasar malams. They said, "You can have two pasar malams a year." But suddenly some grassroots organisations, I am not very clear, were given two years of quota of pasar malam. Instead of one year once, they were given two years. In others words, we were straightaway deprived of two years. How do you vouch for that? How do you take that for a judicial review? So these are small problems which you may think are trivial. But these add up to the popularity or status of the MP there. If he can hold pasar malam or plant a tree, people go round and say, "That is the tree planted by the Opposition." Politically, it is probably not prudent for them to allow all this thing. That is why they were taken off. Now, the battle of the notice boards. The RCs have notice boards, so do our town councils. We are supposed to put up only notices concerning the town council and the RCs are supposed to put up only notices concerning their activities. But if they turn political and put up reports of the Prime Minister and photograph of the prospective candidate there, advertising himself all the time, and a lot of political matters, what do I do? Do I go and complain to the courts and say, "Look, this is only meant for RC matters and no political matters are to be put on the notice boards." Again, these are little problems. In the end, maybe Mr Low Thia Khiang is right. What actually is needed is not Rule of Law, but what is fair to both sides. I am not particularly worried that all these things are done because they are actually political matters and should be resolved by political means. Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, be left out."
Mr Jeyaretnam: I call for a division, Mr Deputy Speaker. Mr Deputy Speaker: Those Members in support of a division please rise in their seats. Mr Jeyaretnam: I call for a division. I want a division on this vote. Mr Chiam See Tong and Mr Low Thia Khiang rose. Mr Deputy Speaker: There being less than five Members, a Division is not allowed. Can you please resume your seat? Mr Jeyaretnam: May it be noted that I called for a division. Mr Deputy Speaker: All right. We will record that. I will just repeat it again. In future, please do not interrupt me. Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, be left out." Amendment accordingly agreed to. Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be inserted, be there inserted." Amendment accordingly agreed to.
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Mr Deputy Speaker: The Question now before this House is the Original Question, as amended: "That this House (1) values the importance of the Rule of Law; and (2) commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all.". Mr Jeyaretnam, if you want to speak, you can speak now. Mr Jeyaretnam: I want to reply to the comments made when I spoke. Mr Deputy Speaker: Carry on. Mr Jeyaretnam: I do not want to keep repeating what I have already said. But may I just take up a few things which were not brought up in the amendment speech. The Minister of State said in his speech - I want to reply to him because I think I have already dismissed the others - as
I understand it, that all are subject to the same law. This is what we want, equality, all subject to the same law. But he does not deal with the specific inequalities that we have shown that have happened in Singapore. I have mentioned the elections as an example and nothing has been said about that. I have mentioned about the purchases of the apartment. This, I have said, came under the second limb about all persons being equal under the law. All that the Minister of State can say is, "The Senior Minister and the DPM came to Parliament to explain the purchases." We have the Prevention of Corruption Act. We have section 8 in that Act which says that where any public official gets any benefit, advantage, favour from anyone who has any dealing with the Government, then he will be deemed to have got that benefit or favour corruptly. And we had here Ministers, not only Ministers, Judge and other public officers getting this benefit. The matter was not referred to the CPIB for investigation. But what was done was for the Prime Minister to take it into his hands and to appoint another Minister and somebody else outside to look into it. Where is the equality between the Ministers and anybody outside the Government? In their case, it would have been referred immediately to the CPIB for investigation. But it was not. That is one example where the law was not applied equally. Then he says, "Police do not take decisions from Ministers." May I tell the Minister of State and this House that in a proceeding in a court when I was charged along with the then Chairman for speaking without a permit, and we claimed trial and the licensing officer was called to give evidence for the prosecution, in answer to my question, he said, "Yes, I have been appointed under the Act to consider every application and to make the decision." But he said that there was a ruling that if any application is made by an Opposition political party, that application should be referred to the Ministry first. Of course, we had known that because previously, prior to that case, every time I rang him up he said, "Well, I am afraid that I do not know the decision yet. You have to wait. I will let you know when I get the decision."
Well, that was giving himself away. So, there was an admission in court that applications from Opposition political parties were being treated differently from applications by other organisations or individuals. There, you have a clear breach of the Rule of Law that all persons are equal and no one is above the law.
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The final point, which I would like to make, is to underscore what Mr Chiam has said. The Rule of Law does not talk about how judicial decisions are to be made. That is something quite different. That is built up under the common law and there are rules of court. But what the Rule of Law says is that the executive cannot deprive anyone of his liberty or his goods without a specific law and observing in executing that law, the rules of natural justice. It is no answer to say we have the Rule of Law because we have the courts. We are not talking about the same thing. The Rule of Law is outside the courts. It is for the executive, for the Government, to abide by. It is for the man-in-the-street, the public, to abide by, and of course the courts themselves to abide by it. But the Rule of Law is not just concerned with decisions made by the courts. The Rule of Law is concerned to ensure that the executive, that the Government is under law, just like any ordinary citizen. It is, therefore, no answer to say the courts are there to judge, we are not infringing the Rule of Law. It is a non sequitur completely. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: Mr Deputy Speaker, just a short rebuttal. First, I think I have to put on record that when I said that the Minister does not direct the Police what to do, it is not in relation to matters, all and sundry, but it is in relation to applications under the Public Entertainments
Act when political parties are concerned. In other words, when an Opposition party applies for a PEL, the licensing officer will have to exercise his professional judgement as he is required to do under the Public Entertainments Act. He does not seek the approval of the Minister. Mr Jeyaretnam: That was not what that officer said. Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee: I am telling him the practice as we do it now. The other point is Mr Low Thia Khiang's comment about fairness. What is important is that if we have rules, for example, like setting up a community foundation, it is open to everybody to do it, not just PAP but Opposition parties. If you are unable to do it because of financial constraints, you should not say that there is no Rule of Law. Finally, Mr Chiam brought up some instances on the ground which he has lived with. These are, as he has said, not problems of the Rule of Law but how all of us handle matters on the ground to reach out to constituents. Original Question, as amended, put , and agreed to. Resolved, That this House (i) values the importance of the Rule of Law; and (ii) commends the Government for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that it is fully observed by all. ADJOURNMENT
Resolved, "That Parliament do now adjourn to a date to be fixed. " - [Mr Wong Kan Seng]. Adjourned accordingly at Eight minutes past Seven o'clock pm
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to a date to be fixed.
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