Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu: The Only Inspiring Hougang Resident

The following article was uploaded in Asiaone Forum by a senior member, sorisori:

Following the advice of constitutional law experts, a resident of the single-member constituency (SMC) has filed a request with Singapore’s High Court, requesting the prime minister to call a by-election in the ward.

Yaw Shin Leong, the MP for the Hougang ward was expelled from the Workers’ Party (WP) on 14 February. Sylvia Lim, chairman for WP informed media that Yaw was expelled after he failed to gie a proper account of his alleged indiscretions in his private life to the party leadership. He was also faulted for repeatedly not showing up for meetings.

Yahoo Singapore reported yesterday, 1 March 2012, that ‘eligible voters from the Hougang single-member constituency (SMC) can consider going to Singapore’s High Court to seek clarification on the applicable laws that govern by-elections.

Mrs Vellama Marie Muthu took action, filing an affidavit today. She said, “Why is it that even the PM is saying, as I am advised, that he even has the power not to call a by-election when he says to the media that he would consider carefully ‘whether… to hold a by-election’?”

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Michael Palmer formally announced the vacancy of the Hougang seat in Parliament on 28 February 2012. MP Yaw Shin Leong had also informed parliament that he has decided not appeal against his expulsion from WP.

Mrs Vellama, a part-time cleaner in Hougang, hopes that the Prime Minister will call a by-election soon. She related that after she had sought help with Mr Yaw, he had asked her to follow-up with him on the difficulties she faced.

“I no longer have the opportunity to do that because Hougang does not have an MP,” she said. Sylvia Lim, in WP’s press release on Mr Yaw’s explusion, had stated that Hougang residents will be served by the Party until the by-election is called. The Meet the People sessions were to be continued, with residents being invited to contact any WP MP for assistance.

“It is not enough that the services off Mr Yaw are currently being substituted by those of MPs from Aljunied Group Representation Constituency. I did not have an opportunity to elect any of them, so they do not have my vote,” Mrs Vellama said. The mother of two children, aged eight and eighteen, faces difficulties paying her mortgage loan for her flat, saying that the banks have threatened her with foreclosure. She also cares for her seventy-seven year old mother and her diabetic sister.

Assistant professor in constitutional law at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Jack Lee said it would be possible for a person with sufficient standing to file an application with the High Court to seek clarification on what exactly the terms refer to. “This could be a voter living in Hougang SMC, or – possibly – a political party that wishes to contest a by-election in that constituency,” elaborated Mr Lee.

Mrs Vellama is plainly asking the courts to declare that the PM does not have unfettered discretion in whether to announce by-election in Hougang SMC. She is also asking the courts to qualify that the PM does not also have unfettered discretion in choosing when to announce the by-election in the ward and that he must do so within 3 months or “within such reasonable time as the honourable court deems fit.” Her request extends to the courts enjoining the PM to advise the President to issue the Writ of Election within a “reasonable time” as well.

PM Lee Hsien Loong had earlier said, “On whether and when to hold a by-election in Hougang, I will consider the matter carefully. There are amny other issues on the national agenda right now. Under the law, there is no fixed time which I must call a by-election”.

From Asiaone Forum, "Part Time cleaner from Hougang filed an affidavit to get PM to clarify on election!". (02/03/12)

The above article does not mention who the lawyer who helped her to file all the paperwork. In yesterday Straits Times article, "Resident asks court to order Hougang by-election", the lawyer is revealed to be one M. Ravi. (If you feel the name is familiar, it may be the same M. Ravi which was featured in this post, "Lawyer M Ravi says Goodbye to TRE?".)

Yahoo! News in "Hougang resident files court application for PM Lee to call by-election" indeed reported that the lawyer is M. Ravi.

Yes, by now you've got the point. I might have put too much emphasis on the lawyer M. Ravi. Assuming he's the very same lawyer with the one whom I blogged earlier (in conjunction to TRE), I do hope he will stay on with this case.

Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu must not be alone in her quest to get PM Lee to give more definite answer on when the by-election for Hougang shall be held. (No, I doubt other Hougang residents will be bothered to join her footstep to file a similar request.)

1 comment:

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