Section 49(1) of the Singapore Constitution makes it very clear that if a parliamentary seat has become vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by election.
To me, that is all the answer we need to the question whether a by-election must be held in Marsiling Yew-Tee now that Halimah Yacob has resigned her parliamentary seat. The clear answer is Yes! The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.
To those who contend that no by-election needs to be called because Section 24(2A) of the Parliamentary Elections Act states that for a Group Representation Constituency (GRC), no election shall be called unless all members of the GRC have vacated their seats, my answer is that this provision is unconstitutional and inconsistent with Section 49(1) of the Constitution and must be struck down.
Section 24( 2A) is also illogical and makes a mockery of democracy. Does it mean that if 5 out of 6 MPs in a GRC vacate their seats, the PAP government is still able to claim that there is no need to call a by-election? That would be nonsensical!
In the case of a minority member vacating his/ her seat in a GRC, there is even more reason to call a by-election. Minority representation was the PAP’s avowed rational for the GRC system, to ensure minority representation in Parliament. The minority member is therefore the linchpin in any GRC. One can say that he or she is the foundation of the GRC.
Without the minority member, there is no GRC. Once this linchpin has been removed, there is no more basis for the remaining members of the GRC team to continue on as MPs.
A by-election must therefore be called.