After Professor Eugene Tan’s comment that by election is automatic as in the case of Hougang, Hri Kumar has written a reply today in Today paper saying that it is not so. Hri’s position is that the law and reason behind the law in our system is mainly to elect a govt, and the position of an MP is secondary. A vacant MP seat is acceptable as long as the govt is in place. There is no automatic by election or no need for by election if the PM or govt thinks so.
So if 5 seats were vacant, or to stretch the argument further, 20 seats were vacant, legally as provided by the law and the reason behind the law, if the govt is in place and running, there is no need for by election at all and the vacant seats can remain, and the people can suffer for having no MPs to serve them. It is the fault of the people for choosing a wrong MP who may resign, expel, die or committed a crime and force to quit while in office.
Hri added, ‘It has another salutary effect: It holds political parties accountable to voters for the performance of their candidates. Parties must endeavour to field candidates who can last the term as MP.’ So political parties must now play God to judge that their MPs would not get into any trouble and resign or prematurely die while in office. Would a doctor’s certificate be needed, like runners for marathon, to ensure that the MP is medically able to live through his terms? I am not God and I don’t think any doctor is God enough to issue such a certificate.
But is it the intent of our electoral system to just elect govt and MP can die or go away never mind? Is that specified in the law or is that an interpretation or a personal opinion? This is the first time that I have heard of such a view that is claimed to be the law and the reason behind the law. No need to have by election. Not automatic.