MPs Will Now Only Lose Their Seats If They’ve Been Fined for Over $10K Instead of $2K


After Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh noted how he could lose his parliamentary seat if he was fined $2,000 or more, this fine threshold has come under much public scrutiny.

Now, the threshold has been raised, from $2,000 to $10,000. Here’s why.

Taking Inflation, Present-Day Sentences into Account

The Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, Mr Chan Chun Sing, said that these changes are part of the Election Department’s review of election processes and legislation after the 2020 elections.

They noted that the disqualification criteria for Members of Parliament (MPs), or Article 45 of the Constitution, have not been reviewed nor changed since independence.

A fine of $2,000 back in 1965 would translate to about $8,000 today, considering inflation over the years.

Additionally, this change also considers the present-day sentences for committing serious tax evasion and corruption offences. They singled out these two crimes as they are relevant to the integrity of a person.

This updating of disqualification criteria was approved by all of Parliament.

Sylvia Lim, the chairman of WP, called this move “an attempt to retain the same standards of eligibility that existed when the law was originally enacted”.

Other Changes Discussed and Approved

The other changes that the Elections Department proposed, like postal voting for overseas Singaporeans and special arrangements for voters in nursing homes, were discussed in Parliament.

Additionally, changes to Articles 37E and 72, which sets out criteria for disqualification of members from the Council of Presidential Advisers and Presidential Council for Minority Rights, were also approved.

Shouldn’t Be Disqualified Over A Fine?

WP chairman Lim, while approving the increase of the fine, also questioned whether this rule should even exist.

She cited the examples of Australia and Britain, where election candidates aren’t usually disqualified if they were fined, no matter the amount.

Additionally, fines may be imposed for cases that aren’t criminal in nature. She then brought up how in 2019, Singapore Democratic Party’s John Tan was fined $5,000 for contempt of court.

Furthermore, those involved in business could be fined for non-compliance as well.

Lim then suggested that fines could be totally removed as a reason for disqualification.

Specify Offences Instead of Fine Threshold

Mountbatten’s Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Bukit Batok’s Mr Murali Pillai noted that the fine quantum alone may not be effective.


Instead, they suggested specifying the offences that will disqualify an MP, to better signal the expected behaviour of an MP.

For instance, some people guilty of dishonesty or immorality, like fraud or sexual crimes, may not be disqualified if their fines don’t exceed $10,000.

On the other hand, others who made a technical mistake, like missing out on a blind spot while driving, may get disqualified due to their fines.

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Widest Possible Slate with Minimum Level of Checks

Responding to the suggestions, Mr Chan said that the changes were purposely kept narrow.

This is to ensure that someone’s right to participate in politics should be unrestricted as much as possible. This is also why a person’s previous disqualification will reset after five years.


Additionally, this will give noters the widest possible slate of candidates with a minimum level of checks to choose from.

Mr Chan then reiterated that the Constitution merely sets an MP’s “minimum moral aptitude”, but the onus still lies on the political parties to ensure their candidates are of integrity.

And ultimately, it is up to the voters to decide if those seeking to represent us in Parliament are fit to do so.

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