Chee Siok Chin takes legal action against PAP’s electioneering

May 24, 2006

Source: Reuters

A candidate from the opposition Singapore Democratic Party has appealed to the court to annul the results of the May 6 parliament election, which it says was undemocratic.

Chee Siok Chin, sister of SDP leader Chee Soon Juan, submitted an application to the High Court on Tuesday, asking that “the results of the General Elections, 2006, be declared null and void” on the basis that it was not free and fair.

“During the time of polling, there were many threats and vote-buying tactics that are clearly unconstitutional. All these have been going on since 1997 and it is about time someone checks on how this government uses taxpayers’ money for its own electioneering purpose,” Chee told Reuters.

In court documents seen by Reuters, Chee accused the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of intimidating opposition voters by warning them that wards which elect an opposition candidate will be last in line for state-subsidised improvements, after all PAP-held wards are attended to.

The government has repeatedly said that upgrading housing estates is a PAP-initiated program, so those who support the PAP would be accorded higher priority, given budget constraints.

Opposition politicians have criticised the upgrading programme as an unfair tactic and say that development projects, such as housing upgrades, are paid for with public funds and should be for all citizens rather than doled out as privileges to party supporters.

DOLING OUT MONEY

Chee’s application also accused the PAP of doling out money ahead of the past two elections.

In February, Lee launched a S$2.6 billion ($1.65 billion) budget spending package, including S$800 in cash for almost half the nation’s households and a bonus for army conscripts. The handouts were deposited in Singaporeans’ bank accounts on May 1, five days before the election was held.

The government has repeatedly denied the budget package was a vote-winning ploy, and has said the payout was meant to prepare Singapore citizens for the long-term challenges of globalisation.

Chee also asked the court to declare the recent ban on political podcasts and videocasts during the election period as unconstitutional, because the law violated individuals’ rights to free speech as guaranteed under the constitution.

“I believe that such acts are tantamount to intimidation, bribery and censorship, which contravenes the Parliamentary Elections Act,” Chee said in the court application.

The PAP — led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of the modern city-state’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew — won 66.6 percent of the votes cast in the recent poll, down from 75.3 percent in the previous election in 2001.

The party, which has dominated parliament since independence in 1965, won 82 out of the 84 seats in parliament, the same number of seats it had in the outgoing parliament.

The SDP has no seats in parliament and won 23 percent of the vote in the wards it contested.

A 41-year old civil activist, Chee and her brother are facing a defamation lawsuit launched by Lee and his father over what the Lees say are accusations of corruption in an article in the SDP’s newsletter.

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