7 July 2012
Article 144 of the constitution of Singapore states, "No guarantee or loan shall be given or raised by the Government except under the authority of any resolution of Parliament with which the President concurs".
The meaning of this article seems to be quite clear to me. In my view, the pledge of US $4 billion to the International Monetary Fund constitutes a guarantee that is covered by this article. If the pledge is called by the IMF, the Government will have to grant a loan which is also clearly covered under this article.
I am. therefore, amazed by the arguments put forward by the Monetary Authority of Singapore that the pledge given to the IMF, as it now stands, did not breach the Constitution. If the position of MAS is correct, it is better for the Constitution to be re-written to reflect the position taken by MAS.
The Constitution is perhaps the most important legal document in the land. The citizens should be assured that they can trust the Constitution to mean what it says, and that the wordings are not interpreted in a manner that defy logic or common sense.
I do not understand why the pledge of this large amount is not submitted for approval by required under the Constitution. Even if there is an urgency for the pledge to be given, it can be given on a provisional basis, and be subject to obtaining the required approvals. I believe that most countries would follow such a process on a matter of great importance. This would reflect a high standard of governance, which is what the Government aims to promote in the corporate world.
Rather than justify an action that is already done, I suggest that the MAS should submit the pledge to Parliament for rectification by Parliament and the President. It is all right to make a mistake and to learn from it.
Tan Kin Lian