Chee Siok Chin takes legal action against PAP’s electioneering

May 24, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Fayen Wong
Reuters
24 May 06
http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-05-23T154358Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-250690-1.xml&archived=False

A candidate from the opposition Singapore Democratic Party has appealed to the court to annul the results of the May 6 parliament election, which it says was undemocratic.

Chee Siok Chin, sister of SDP leader Chee Soon Juan, submitted an application to the High Court on Tuesday, asking that “the results of the General Elections, 2006, be declared null and void” on the basis that it was not free and fair.

“During the time of polling, there were many threats and vote-buying tactics that are clearly unconstitutional. All these have been going on since 1997 and it is about time someone checks on how this government uses taxpayers’ money for its own electioneering purpose,” Chee told Reuters.

In court documents seen by Reuters, Chee accused the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of intimidating opposition voters by warning them that wards which elect an opposition candidate will be last in line for state-subsidised improvements, after all PAP-held wards are attended to.

The government has repeatedly said that upgrading housing estates is a PAP-initiated program, so those who support the PAP would be accorded higher priority, given budget constraints.

Opposition politicians have criticised the upgrading programme as an unfair tactic and say that development projects, such as housing upgrades, are paid for with public funds and should be for all citizens rather than doled out as privileges to party supporters.

DOLING OUT MONEY

Chee’s application also accused the PAP of doling out money ahead of the past two elections.

In February, Lee launched a S$2.6 billion ($1.65 billion) budget spending package, including S$800 in cash for almost half the nation’s households and a bonus for army conscripts. The handouts were deposited in Singaporeans’ bank accounts on May 1, five days before the election was held.

The government has repeatedly denied the budget package was a vote-winning ploy, and has said the payout was meant to prepare Singapore citizens for the long-term challenges of globalisation.

Chee also asked the court to declare the recent ban on political podcasts and videocasts during the election period as unconstitutional, because the law violated individuals’ rights to free speech as guaranteed under the constitution.

“I believe that such acts are tantamount to intimidation, bribery and censorship, which contravenes the Parliamentary Elections Act,” Chee said in the court application.

The PAP — led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of the modern city-state’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew — won 66.6 percent of the votes cast in the recent poll, down from 75.3 percent in the previous election in 2001.

The party, which has dominated parliament since independence in 1965, won 82 out of the 84 seats in parliament, the same number of seats it had in the outgoing parliament.

The SDP has no seats in parliament and won 23 percent of the vote in the wards it contested.

A 41-year old civil activist, Chee and her brother are facing a defamation lawsuit launched by Lee and his father over what the Lees say are accusations of corruption in an article in the SDP’s newsletter.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

Originating Summons No. )

Of 2006)

In the matter of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore

And

In the matter of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap 218)

Between

CHEE SIOK CHIN……Plaintiff
And

ATTORNEY-GENERAL… Defendant

ORIGINATING SUMMONS

LET ALL PARTIES concerned attend before the Judge or Registrar in Chambers on the day of 2006am / pm on the hearing of an application by the Plaintiffs for the following orders that: –

1 The results of the General Elections, 2006, be declared null and void;

2 The ban on podcasting during the period of the General Elections, 2006, be declared unconstitutional; and

3 Such other relief and/or remedies as this Honourable Court deems fit.

The grounds of this application are set out in the affidavit of the Plaintiff filed herein.

Dated this 23rd day of May 2006
Entered No. of 2006
Clerk

ASSISTANT REGISTRAR

This summons is taken out by the Plaintiff-in-Person Chee Siok Chin.

To the Defendant :
The Attorney-General Chambers
1 Coleman Street

#10-00

Singapore 179803

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

Originating Summons No. )

Of 2006 )

In the matter of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore

And

In the matter of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap 218)

Between

CHEE SIOK CHIN……Plaintiff
And

ATTORNEY-GENERAL……Defendant

AFFIDAVIT

I, Chee Siok Chin, do hereby solemnly make oath and say as follows:

  1. I am the Applicant in this Originating Summons. I make this affidavit in support of my Application.

  2. The facts deposed herein are based on my personal knowledge and are true.

Upgrading for votes

  1. On 26 March 2006, it was reported on Channel News Asia that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said: “I do not want the two constituencies to be left behind, especially Potong Pasir, an old estate. Five years down the road, assuming Chiam do (sic) win, there will be no upgrading. After that, we got to ask ourselves whether the estate is worthwhile upgrading. I’m talking about Lorong 8. By then, the estate would be around 35 years old and the lease is only 99 years, so economically, is it worthwhile? My own view is Hougang should be upgraded, otherwise another five years, another 10 years, it would become rather derelict compared to other estates in Singapore.”

  2. On 26 November 2001 during the 1997 General Elections, Mr Goh, then the prime minister, said: “In 20, 30 years’ time, the whole of Singapore will be bustling away, and your estate, through your own choice, will be left behind. They become slums.” He was warning voters that wards which did not vote for PAP would be placed last in line for HDB upgrading.

  3. On 4 May 2006 two days before the polling day on 6 May, the Straits Times reported: “Mr [Eric] Low, who was with [Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong] in Hougang, announced that around $100 million will be set aside to carry out a 10-year upgrading plan for the area – provided he wins.”

Giving out money during elections

  1. On 3 May 2006, Mr Lee Hsien Loong said: “Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?” http://pap.org.sg/articleview.php?id=951&mode=&cid=23

  2. In his National Day Rally Speech on 19 August 2001, Goh Chok Tong said: “I would also like to introduce a new scheme to help especially less well-off Singaporeans. I intend to give you shares which pay a guaranteed dividend for a fixed number of years, plus bonus payments when the economy does well. These shares will also be redeemable immediately for cash, but not all at once. I will call this scheme ‘New Singapore’ Shares.”

  3. The shares can be exchanged for money. The Government then announced that the encashment could take place in November 2001 which is during the election period.

  4. In his Budget 2006 speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “First, I will distribute Growth Dividends to all adult citizens…I have therefore decided to distribute the Growth Dividends in the form of cash which can be collected immediately upon allotment…Singaporeans can look forward to receiving their Growth Dividends on 1 May 2006. The Growth Dividends are expected to cost the Government $1.4 billion.”

  5. The General Elections were held in May 2006. The polling day was 6 May 2006. The cash was given out on 28 April 2006.

Banning podcasting and blogging

  1. On 4 April 2006, the Straits Times reported: “New Internet technologies, such as podcasting and videocasting, cannot be used to disseminate political content during the General Election, the Government said yesterday. In the most extensive answer to date on online electioneering, Dr Balaji Sadasivan noted that streaming of ‘explicit political content’ by political parties or individuals is banned under election advertising rules set in 2001. He also had news for bloggers: They can discuss politics, but will have to register their sites if they consistently espouse a political line.” The unconstitutional ban on podcasting had affected the campaign of the opposition and thus affecting the outcome of voting.

Conclusion

  1. It is clear that the PAP Government has been using the HDB upgrading scheme and the giving out of shares and cash to induce voters to vote for it and secure electoral victory.

  2. It is also obvious that the PAP has violated the right to freedom of speech as provided for in our Constitution.

  3. In the circumstances, I believe that such acts tantamount to intimidation, bribery and censorship which contravenes the Parliamentary Elections Act. I therefore respectfully pray for an order in terms of the Application.

SWORN TO by the abovenamed )

CHEE SIOK CHIN )
on the day 23rd day of May 2006 )
at Singapore )
Before me,
A COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS