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Jamus Lim critiques recent constitutional changes, voices concerns on backdating laws

In a recent Facebook post, WP MP Jamus Lim emphasized the need for a rigorous evaluation in laws involving backdating. He believes constitutional changes allowing the president and ministers to assume international roles do not meet this elevated standard.

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Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC, argued that when it comes to laws involving backdating, a more rigorous evaluation should be applied, expressing his view that constitutional changes permitting the president and ministers to privately assume roles in international institutions fall short of meeting this elevated standard.

While expressing no objection to President Tharman Shanmugaratnam holding esteemed international roles, Assoc Prof Lim cautioned against retrospective lawmaking, emphasizing its potential for severe consequences—disrupting established relationships and undermining efficiency and equity.

He further stressed that such retrospective measures, if ingrained in expectations, become even more troublesome.

Retroactive concern and effects on the rule of law

In a recent Facebook post, Assoc Prof Lim commented on the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No. 3) Bill, which was passed in the Singapore Parliament on 22 November last year.

The bill, allowing the President and ministers to assume roles in global organizations in their private capacities if it serves the national interest, received 75 votes from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) but faced opposition from eight lawmakers from the Workers’ Party (WP) and Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

The WP MPs raised significant concerns, particularly regarding the retroactive application of the amendments to 14 September, the day President Tharman assumed office, which raised eyebrows among opposition MPs.

While many observers expressed concerns about the constitutional amendment bill compromising the efforts of the busy and highly paid president and ministers, Assoc Prof Lim considered this a secondary concern.

While acknowledging the importance of Singapore’s global presence and supporting proposals for soft power advancement, his primary objection focused on the backdating of amendments to accommodate President Tharman’s assumption of office.

Assoc Prof Lim clarified that his objection was not a personal critique of President Tharman, as he respected his intellectual and leadership abilities.

“I trust that he’ll remain professional. But when we change laws after the fact, we are effectively engaged in retrospective lawmaking, ” he added that changing laws after the fact can have severe consequences, upending established relationships, and potentially undermining efficiency and equity.

Highlighting the rule of law as an underappreciated strength of Singapore, Lim underscored its crucial role in global economic competitiveness.

“The rule of law is one of our nation’s underappreciated strengths. We think of our strategic location, openness to global flows, high-quality talent, and relative safety as key economic strengths. These are, undoubtedly, important. ”

“But in my research, I’ve found that institutional quality—especially respect for property rights and the rule of law—trumps most other factors when it comes to investment, including stuff like the control of corruption, the development of the financial sector, and the tax regime.”

Assoc Prof Lim expressed concern about the quantitative measures of the rule of law in Singapore showing backsliding over the past decade, cautioning against weakening this undervalued superpower at the risk of global economic competitiveness.

He argued that while there have been previous instances of retroactive law changes, they were typically carefully justified, such as measures related to controlling COVID or conditions about the nation’s independence.

“So when retroactive revisions are applied to a matter as grave as constitutional amendments—which are, almost by definition, meant to encompass enduring, fundamental principles for our nation—they should face a higher hurdle. ”

In Lim’s opinion, the constitutional changes allowing the president and ministers to privately take on international roles did not meet this high bar.

“So even if we agree that it’s fine for them to do so (as I’m open to), the circumstances just aren’t sufficiently serious.”

“Arrogant” retroactive revisions

He expressed discomfort with retroactive revisions for a matter he deemed insufficiently serious, suggesting that it cheapens the Constitution and takes the constitutional amendment process for granted.

“There is a certain arrogance in such a move, born out of a self-assured belief that such actions, when undertaken for good reason, justify changing the rules of the game after the fact. ”

He highlighted the supermajority held by the PAP in parliament, cautioning against policymaking that might be associated with giving the PAP a blank check.

“Just because something can be done, it doesn’t mean that it should.”

“I hope Singaporeans will consider carefully, for the sake of our country’s future,” Assoc Prof Lim concluded.

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more votes for WP ! tsk tsk tsk

JL is 100% right. Is the PAP saying that they don’t have other civil servants to fill the roles as and when it comes up? Must we be represented in the world arena by the same people? Tharman is the worst in this as he signed the back dating legislation benefitting himself.

It all boils down to the PAP having more than two thirds majority in parliament. This, of course gives the party the carte blanche to amend any law to suit them. The remedy is very simple – deprive the PAP of this two thirds majority. We need between 35 and 38 opposition seats to be on the safe side (we can’t be too sure what the PAP will be up to) By now the opposition should already be in talks to avoid three cornered fights. And those vulnerable PAP constituencies be it GRCs or SMCs should be highlighted and sufficient… Read more »

This is the Best Classic Case of Political Corruption on earth, a bunch of Sheegapore law makers laughing at the stupidity of Sillyporeans.

The uninhibited mis use of powers, blatant disregards of morality even when they murder people (can the deaths of few Hep patients classified as murder? ), ownself can set ownself free.

If Jamus Lim is not a scholar, he should just shut the fuck up and stop teaching our ministers to do their jobs. Our ministers are all Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard graduates.

If Pappy should one day become corrupt (everyone will have to form their own opinion with all the recent incidents), they will be able to change the constitution and backdate same so that they can get off the hook without any consequences. That is where our country is heading which precedent had been set. Vote wisely if you love your country.

VTO. VTO.

Long Live Singapore. Loong Leave Singapore (after he pays for all his wrong doings).

Jamus Lim is not in a position to criticise harsher. I can help him out, this is PAP Administration’s absolute abuse of power. In fact there isn’t any decency on this – one might question, any corruption worst than this? Universally this is PAP Administration disregard of all other stakeholder existence and presence of in SG.

All material change to the constitution should at least go through a referendum before being effected. Just because the ruling party forming the govt has more than 2/3 parliamentary majority does not give them the MORAL authority to willy nilly change it to basically suit THEMSELVES. The value of our constitution went into the toilet when Ah Loong used it wipe his karchng to make Halimau the previous Indian … erm … I mean MALAY president. And like LKY said about sex, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. The barrier to making changes to allow not… Read more »

Iswaran can now be appointed retrospectively as Chairman, SGP by the government or by private company SGP.

He is therefore entitled to all perks, allowances, salaries, shares, entertainment etc enjoyed as the chair.

his appointment can be backdated to the date he was feted. CPIB or Ag shd therefore rescind the charges. Nothing to see here!

Singapore PAP dictatorship government Ministers cannot able to handle own country problems still want to interfere in international affairs, busybody and interfere China internal affairs and US affairs, surely get whacked by China and US government s

Exactly. That why No VOTE at all for warmongers on both sides to step down. And Reset again. Ground up: The people choose who the candidates they want to represent them and start the election with their candidates. Not someone dictate by BiG RICH Groups that has amass a lot of resources.

Benefitting them , Fast VERY Fast .

This is precisely what happens when you give a party the majority, … to do as they please with laws, policies and expenditure.

Especially when that party, … have only their self~interest to protect, proliferate and perpetuate !!!

SillyPore, … may be all this and that, but when it comes to political maturity, sensibility and general awareness, … they’re still in a “fishing village” !!!

It is what it is !!!

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