What will our Parliament be without the Rule of Law? September 19, 2023 The Motion proposed by NCMPs Hazel Poa and Leong Mun Wai today (Sept 19) is deeply troubling. We are not going to talk about how it is a convenient and opportunistic rallying of public sentiments to raise the pitchforks under the veiled pretence of fairness. The problem we have is that it runs counter to the principles that Parliament upholds. Presuming an individual innocent until proven guilty by a Court of Law is a cornerstone of Singapore’s legal system and is mirrored in Parliament. Concerns About Undermining the Presumption of Innocence The PSP’s Motion undermines the bedrock principle of presumption of innocence. It casts a shadow over the electoral mandate entrusted to a specific MP. It establishes a profoundly troubling precedent, suggesting that the House can suspend an MP without regard for the rule of law and established principles, as per the Standing Orders of Parliament of Singapore. Such a precedent opens the door to politically motivated resolutions targeting any Member. Can an elected member be simply removed just because the House says so? This is undoubtedly a matter of grave concern. Fairness and Impartiality in Parliamentary Motions The emphasis on deducting the pay of Minister S Iswaran can indeed be seen as a premature judgment and punishment, irrespective of whether he is eventually proven guilty or innocent. It is a knee-jerk reaction targeting Minister Iswaran individually rather than a legitimate adherence to a broader principle. As opposed to Leader’s proposal to affirm the principles of fair and firm actions against any wrongdoing, PSP’s focus on a single MP through the Motion raises concerns about its fairness and impartiality. We question if PSP is prepared to apply this universally to all members regardless of their political affiliation, including Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, and Faisal Manap, who are currently under investigation. This approach risks eroding the trust and integrity of the legal and parliamentary system, which should always be prioritised, due process and the presumption of innocence for all individuals. There is currently no established mechanism to suspend an MP’s salary without a legal basis, and rightly so. There must be a clear establishment of guilt for such punitive measures. The debate this time round underscores the critical importance of maintaining the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven in a Court of Law. And it is assuring to see how most members voted down PSP’s misguided motion. It highlights the necessity of refraining from premature actions driven by political motivation, which can potentially compromise the integrity of the legal system.