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SDP’s John Tan seeks court declaration over eligibility to run in upcoming General Election

SINGAPORE — Opposition politician John Tan is seeking a court ruling to declare that he is eligible to contest in the upcoming General Election, after he was fined S$5,000 for contempt of court earlier this year.

John Tan (pictured), vice-chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), has asked the courts to declare that he is eligible to run in the upcoming General Election despite a fine earlier this year for contempt of court.

John Tan (pictured), vice-chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), has asked the courts to declare that he is eligible to run in the upcoming General Election despite a fine earlier this year for contempt of court.

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SINGAPORE — Opposition politician John Tan is seeking a court ruling to declare that he is eligible to contest in the upcoming General Election, after he was fined S$5,000 for contempt of court earlier this year.

Under Singapore’s Parliamentary Elections Act, anyone “sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year, or to a fine of not less than $2,000 and has not received a free pardon” cannot contest in the General Elections or become a Member of Parliament.

Tan, vice-chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), was in chambers at the High Court on Monday (Oct 7) to ask for the declaration. 

‘IT’S NOT A CRIMINAL OFFENCE’

Human rights lawyer M Ravi — who is representing Tan — contended that his client should not be disqualified, saying that the conditions set forth by the  Parliamentary Elections Act refer to criminal offences.

Contempt of court, he argued, is not a criminal offence.

Referring to a past incident during the 1988 general elections as a precedent, Mr Ravi said in his submissions that SDP’s candidate Jufrie Mahmood was allowed to run in the elections even though he had been found guilty of a contempt of court charge and was fined S$3,000 earlier that year.

Mr Jufrie, a former SDP chairman, was fined for a statement he made at a party forum that questioned the independence of the judiciary.

Mr Ravi pointed out that the Returning Officer at the time had told The Straits Times that Mr Jufrie's nomination paper would not be rejected.

When contacted by TODAY, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said it will not be commenting on the hearing as Justice Aedit Abdullah is deliberating on the case. Justice Abdullah has indicated that he will issue his grounds in November.

TODAY previously reported that with the formation of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, there are two likely windows for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to call the next General Election, which must occur before April 2021.

Some political pundits believe that it could be held in the April-to-June period, after next year’s Budget, while others predict the polls to be called as soon as the fourth quarter this year to form a stable government before economic uncertainties get worse.

TAN’S CONTEMPT OF COURT CASE

In April, Tan and activist Jolovan Wham were fined S$5,000 each for contempt of court.

Last year in April, Wham published a Facebook post alleging that Malaysia's judges were more independent than Singapore's in cases with political implications.

The AGC initiated a contempt of court case against him. Less than a month later, Tan said on Facebook that the AGC's actions confirmed the truth of Wham's comment.

This prompted the Attorney General to similarly charge Tan with contempt of court.

 

 

Related topics

General Election John Tan contest fine court SDP Attorney-General's Chambers SGVotes2020

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