Yaw must respond to Parliament in a week

A decision on the vacancy of Yaw Shin Leong's seat in the Parliament will only be made known after Friday 24, said Speaker Michael Palmer at the opening of Friday's Parliament sitting.

This is because they do not know whether Mr Yaw will be appealing against, or challenging the Workers' Party's decision to expel him, the Speaker of Parliament said.

Mr Yaw would need to reply in writing to the Clerk of Parliament's letter to inform her of his intention, Mr Palmer said. He has until Friday, Feb 24, 2012 to do so.

The decision can be made earlier if Mr Yaw replies before the deadline.

This was the practice adopted by Parliament in 1993 in the case involving the expulsion of Mr Chiam See Tong from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

At that time, Mr Chiam had maintained that his sacking from the SDP was unconstitutional and illegal. Therefore, he asked the Speaker to "hold his hands until the legality of [his] expulsion from the SDP is decided" at the next party conference.

Subsequently Mr Chiam obtained a court injunction against the SDP executive committee restraining them from expelling him.

In view of the developments then, the Parliament was asked not to take any decision until the parties had resolved their issues.

Article 46(2)(b) of the Constitution states that the seat of a Member of Parliament shall become vacant if he ceases to be a member of, or is expelled or resigns from, the political party for which he stood in the election.

Article 48(a) of the Constitution states that any question as to whether a Member of Parliament has vacated his seat "shall be determined by Parliament whose decision shall be final".

Article 48 also contains a proviso which permits the practice of Parliament postponing its decision "in order to allow for the taking or determination of any proceedings that may affect the decision."