Slowly, but surely, eroding our Constitutional rights?


Please help me to understand what our Constitution means to ordinary Singaporeans? 

Article 4 of the Constitution states: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, specifically Article 14(1), guarantees to Singapore citizens the rights to freedom of speech and expression, peaceful assembly without arms, and association.

So, what are your thoughts on the following – which may in a sense be arguably, eroding the rights of Singaporeans guaranteed under the Constitution:-

We are ranked 151st in the world for press freedom and we have the following restrictions which arguably, curtails the freedom of expression (writing on certain things which may breach the following):-

…  “Seditious tendency 3.—(1)  A seditious tendency is a tendency —

(ato bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government
– “(2)  Notwithstanding subsection (1), any act, speech, words, publication or other things shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency — (a) to show that the Government has been misled or mistaken in any of its measures” (Sedition Act)
“(e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore” (Sedition Act)
… cannot write about race, religion or nationalities or different classes of people?
… cannot write about an on going court case or police investigation? (Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill)
… cannot write about anything that may be deemed as harassment? (Protection from Harassment Act)
 … cannot write about anything that may be deemed as defamatory? (Defamation Act)
… may not write about or use Lee Kuan Yew’s name or image or likeness in such a way as may be construed as “(not) accorded dignity and respect” (Guidelines of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY))
And who knows – perhaps in the not too distant future – the “fake news” law may in effect, translate for all practical purposes into yet another impediment and ‘instil fear” into the hands of Singaporeans when they want to write about what they think matters to Singaporeans.
By the way –  we may also need to be weary about writing about anything that may be construed as in some way, be related to “any evidence given, or any documents presented to the (a Select Parliamentary) committee, or extracts“?

Article 49 (1) states that whenever an MP’s seat becomes vacant “for any other reason other than a dissolution of Parliament”, the vacancy “shall” be filled by election.

According to the article “Singapore Court of Appeal says PM must call for a by-election ‘within a reasonable time’” (Yahoo News, Jul 5, 2013) – “The Court of Appeal said on Friday that Singapore’s constitution does not give the prime minister unfettered discretion in calling for an election to fill a vacated seat of an elected Member of Parliament.

The court’s three-judge panel said this in a 57-page document in which, at the same time, it dismissed the appeal of Hougang resident Vellama Marie Muthu against a High Court ruling last year that the prime minister does have the discretion.

In its judgment, the CA, said: “Art. 49 does not give the Prime Minister an unfettered discretion in the calling of an election to fill a casual vacancy of an elected MP. He must do so within a reasonable time and in that regard, the Prime Minister is entitled to take into account all relevant circumstances and only in clear cases can there be judicial intervention.”

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.