The SDP will argue before the Judge in chambers tomorrow morning to transfer the hearing to open court. We have asked the AGC whether it objects to our application but have not had a reply. Our argument is three-fold:
Unlike other cases between private entities over domestic disputes that have limited interest to the public, this matter involves a government ministry no less and a political party that will be contesting in the next GE engaged over the subject of job security of Singaporeans – a subject which survey after survey show are of great concern to the public.
Even the MOM has acknowledged in its response that: “Given the current uncertain economic climate, it is understandable that some Singaporeans feels anxious about employment prospects and retrenchments. This makes it all the more critical that public debate on the important issue of jobs is based on accurate facts, and not distortions or falsehoods.”
Two, Law Minister K Shanmugam, in addressing the enactment of POFMA, said: “Trust in institutions is important for society’s well-being and prosperity.” This includes the Courts.
In this regard, a hearing that members of the public can attend and listen to the arguments for themselves is critical.
Three, there is legal precedence for the court to order the hearing in open court. The SDP will cite at least two such cases.
Minister Josephine Teo has made serious allegations against the SDP. We are confident of our arguments and, as such, we are prepared to have them scrutinised by the court and the public. We hope that the MOM feels the same way about its case.