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."
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.
- The law prescribes that it is for the PM to determine when elections should be called, and we should let him do his job.
(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.