By Mathew Carr
Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 2023 — Ravi MRavi, a human rights lawyer, applied in a Singapore court last week to force the key candidate for President out of the race, ahead of an election that was held Friday. He failed, and the presidential candidate in question, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, won with 70% of votes.
The courts ruled MRavi was wasting their time after he appealed an initial decision, the applicant said on Facebook (link below).
“We will review the decision of Justice Chua Lee Meng in relation to M Ravi and will evaluate the feasibility and possibility to launch a constitutional challenge on the validity of the Presidential Elections, if an unsuited or ineligible presidential candidate is elected, “ Joseph Chen, a Singapore human rights lawyer, acting on M Ravi’s behalf, said in a statement posted on M Ravi’s Facebook page last week.
Shanmugaratnam was convicted and fined under a prosecution involving the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in the early 1990s. This conviction makes him ineligible, as well as his links to the government, MRavi said on Facebook, citing the Singapore constitution.
The president is meant to be independent of government and has powers such as the authority to issue pardons.
The case is testing constitutional law in Singapore, which is setting itself up as a carbon-trading hub in Asia and is an investment centre, including for money with questionable origins. The constitution allows for presidents who have had convictions, as long as fines are less than S$10,000 ($7,408).
Shanmugaratnam downplayed his conviction in a recent interview, published on Mothership, indicating improperly disclosed data wasn’t his fault. He was fined S$1,500 at the time, according to the report:
MRavi himself has had some run-ins with the authorities in Singapore, yet he considers the judicial system generally independent of government. He’s been involved in cases to save people from the death penalty, which is used by Singapore — a city state kinda run like a very profitable family business.
A successful outcome would have denied Shanmugaratnam a chance to run on Friday and would bode well for a rewriting of the Singapore constitution over the next few years, according to M Ravi, who I spoke with. See here for some audio:
Multiple Singaporeans told CarrZee Carbon they were sick of being offered fake political choices and planned to spoil their ballots.
Financial Times (London) on Wednesday:
The People’s Action Party has ruled over the city state uninterrupted for about six decades, a record in a parliamentary democracy (Wikipedia). A number of Singaporeans who spoke to CarrZee expressed skepticism over the Presidential elections, describing them as an attempt to further tighten controls over the nation and its vast financial reserves.
Britain’s colonization of Singapore ended in 1963. The role of President is largely symbolic, though the holder of the position can wield considerable influence and the role holds the keys to the country’s reserves. Shanmugaratnam, former deputy prime minister, left the government to pursue the role (see video below).
The President of Singapore gets about S$1.5 million ($1.1 million) a year and stays in office for six years. The salary is more than double that of US President Joe Biden at $400,000.
For the latest from MRavi, visit:
Here is MRavi’s speech to camera outside the court on Tuesday:
Here is a snip of one of the documents:
Shanmugaratnam says he disagreed with government in the past
(Corrects typo in the name Joseph, adds result; update delayed because of technical issues; apologies; smooths language; earlier added intention to appeal; earlier added Thursday’s ruling)