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Constitutional law

2013

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Hougang By-Election Case: What Court Decision On By-Election Reveals, Jack Tsen-Ta Lee Aug 2013

Hougang By-Election Case: What Court Decision On By-Election Reveals, Jack Tsen-Ta Lee

Jack Tsen-Ta LEE

The Singapore Court of Appeal’s judgment in Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v Attorney-General [2013] SGCA 39 – popularly known as the Hougang by-election case – shows that the Court sees its role as policing the margins rather than involving itself in the heart of politics. The Court held that the Government was incorrect in asserting the Constitution confers on it the discretion not to hold a by-election at all after a parliamentary seat falls vacant. The judgment came as a surprise to those used to a judicial stance fairly deferential towards the Government, but on balance the Court did accord ...