Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Disgraceful Debating

Earlier, I wrote that Bishan-Toa Payoh MP Hri Kumar's statements on the issue of a by-election in Hougang (in reply to a commentary by NMP Eugene Tan) reminded me of some episode where sophistry won out over good sense.

The public discourse on this matter has advanced somewhat, with experts on constitutional law weighing in. To summarize their views, it suffices to consider the following statement Yahoo! News obtained from Adjunct professor Kevin Tan who lectures at the National University of Singapore:
    "In brief, Eugene (Tan) is right and Hri (Kumar) is wrong. Eugene's latest letter states the law as it stands and must be regarded as the proper interpretation of the situation."
NMP Eugene Tan replied on the 28 Feb, citing both Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and Section 52 of the Interpretation Act to support his original contention that a by-election should be called soon and if not, the reasons should be clearly spelt out.

Hri Kumar was quick to file a rejoinder, saying, among other things, that:
    Contrary to what he wrote, Article 49 of the Constitution does not say that an election shall be "called" to fill a vacant seat. It simply prescribes that the vacant seat "shall be filled by election".

    Whether it is a general election or a by-election, and more importantly, when that election is to be called, is entirely at the discretion of the Prime Minister. There is no obligation to call an immediate by-election.
and also that:
    The law prescribes that it is for the PM to determine when elections should be called, and we should let him do his job.
He later mentions a largely irrelevant point about the Workers' Party previously voting against a motion that proposed mandating by-elections be called within three months from the date an MP vacates his seat, and makes a weak attempt at an ad hominem attack at Eugene Tan the "political commentator" suggesting that Tan was motivated by the rich material that would be generated in the "electioneering" of a by-election.

(The reader is encouraged to read the full set of letters before forming an opinion. The series of letters documenting the exchange in Today Online may be found here, or here, if that link is broken.)

The first paragraph I quoted of Hri Kumar's second letter represents, at least to me, a poor attempt at twisting the text of the Constitution. I would term it unsophisticated sophistry. His attempt at distraction was rather silly as well. It is disgraceful debating in plain sight.

In my previous post, the evidence and simple logic led to two possibly conclusions, that either (i) Hri Kumar has publicly shown that he lacks integrity (by arguing for a legal position that he knew to be at variance with the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore), or (ii) he is incompetent as a lawyer (by arguing for a legal position without knowledge of the relevant statutes). My argument still stands, and the reader should form his/her opinion on which to pick.

I think he is a disgrace to the legacy of good PAP men like Goh Keng Swee, Lim Kim San, S. Rajaratnam and Toh Chin Chye. It is indeed regrettable that Singaporeans have a Member of Parliament such as Hri Kumar.


Sgcynic said...

I pick (i) and I am disgusted by it

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I watched the man's body language and I am frankly very surprised that he is SC calibre!

Frankly, his remarks and his manner of delivery made me think of some camp follower on the make and not someone who is well versed in the law.

The govt party has this propensity and habit of recruiting into its ranks people, whatever their calling, who could stoop to any level in the mistaken believe that their party's stake overshadows everything else. In this case, even the rights of the residents of Hougang to proper parliamentary representation.