Who Holds the Purse Strings?
Plaintiff: Kenneth Andrew Jeyaretnam: 2nd: /08/2012
IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
Originating Summons No 657 of 2012 )
In the matter of the Government’s US$4 billion loan commitment to the International Monetary Fund
Order 53 of the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5, 2006 Rev Ed Sing)
Article 144 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed)
Section 9 of the Bretton Woods Agreement Act (Cap 27, 2012 Rev Ed Sing)
Sections 24, 26 of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (Cap 186, 1999 Rev Ed Sing)
KENNETH ANDREW JEYARETNAM
(NRIC No S1396458J)
I, Kenneth Andrew Jeyaretnam (NRIC No S1396458J), of 17 Evelyn Road #29-07 Singapore 309306, do affirm and say as follows:-
1. I am the Plaintiff in these proceedings.
2. The facts and matters deposed to herein are within my personal knowledge and are true to the best of my information, knowledge and belief.
3. I have read a copy of the affidavit of Quah Ley Hoon filed herein on behalf of the Defendant on 1 August 2012 in support of its position (hereinafter referred to as ‘Quah’s Affidavit’) and I make this affidavit in reply thereto.
4. With regard to the propriety, in the first place, of Quah’s Affidavit in the circumstances of this matter before the Honourable Court, I take umbrage and great exception to the fact that the reply affidavit (that is to say, Quah’s Affidavit) on behalf of the Attorney-General (and, in effect, indeed, on behalf of the Government of Singapore (GOS)) was filed – no doubt on the direction of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) – by a lowly official in the International Relations Directorate of Monetary Authority of Singapore (‘MAS’) to my affidavit filed on 6 July 2012 (‘My Affidavit’) and addressed to the GOS.
5. The matter being pleaded before this Honourable Court is one of basic accountability of and transparency in the GOS and goes to the heart of the Rule of Law, a central plank of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed) (‘Constitution’) and parliamentary democracy. It is vital to ensuring that the Executive is accountable to the Legislature and to the people of Singapore and that our democracy works for the people. It is disingenuous and inapposite of the GOS to attempt to circumvent and sidestep this matter of national importance by referring it down to a “relationship director”.
6. In the premises, the MOF should reply to My Affidavit and not an obscure and lowly MAS official. By referring this matter in this manner the GOS has failed to accord the matter before this Honourable Court the necessary gravitas the circumstances warrant Consequently, it is wholly inappropriate and, furthermore, insulting to the Plaintiff, this Honourable Court and the citizens of Singapore.
7. Moreover, the referral of this matter to an employee in an international department of MAS is not only inapropos, it may also give rise to confusion, misunderstanding and uncertainty. I wish to reiterate (and its restatement cannot be overemphasised) that the proceedings under Originating Summons No 657 of 2012 (‘Action’) concern the GOS’ and the MAS’ compliance with Article 144 of the Constitution (and sections 24 and 26 of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (Cap 186)); which Action pertains to the matter of a S$4 billion loan commitment and/or guarantee (‘Loan’) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which necessarily also involves the Bretton Woods Agreements Act (Cap 27, 2012 Rev Ed Sing). The said Action is premised and grounded on the argument that it is immaterial who the recipient or beneficiary of the Loan is. It is the substantive question of whether the Loan should be authorised by Parliament and/or the President of the Republic Singapore and/or in compliance with due constitutional process that requires this Honourable Court’s adjudication and not who the recipient or beneficiary of the Loan is!
8. In the result, the same action for leave and remedies (to wit, a quashing order and a prohibiting order) would have to be applied for, as appropriate, if the people’s monies were to be loaned to any individual or institution whether in Singapore or any other country without following due constitutional process.
9. It is equally clear that the sum of money involved is also not material. The same due constitutional process must be complied with as mandated under the Constitution whether it be for S$1 or, as in the case of MAS, a potential S$300 billion under management or in the case of the GOS a minimum of S$705 billion; which monies, any and all, belong to the people/citizens of the Republic of Singapore. In all or any of these cases the GOS must be fully accountable to the people/citizens of the Republic of Singapore for the use of money in the budget.
10. With regard to the Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of Quah’s Affidavit, I verily believe that this Action is not about the IMF per se or whether Singapore should or should not be providing a stand-by commitment to increase the IMF’s resources in the event of a worsening of the European debt crisis. Neither is this Action concerned with the empirical question of whether the IMF is of good credit or not. The nature of international relations between Singapore and the IMF is also not pertinent to this Action. The learned Attorney-General is well aware that in My Affidavit – which reproduced a substantial portion of my letter to Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s Managing Director – I stated that I was not unsympathetic to the IMF’s request for additional resources and that this was not germane to the constitutional processes which I contend have been honoured more in breach than compliance. To reiterate, the international relations between Singapore and any other sovereign nation or political body or Institution are not relevant, germane nor material to my fundamental argument in the Action.
11. With regard to the Paragraphs 7 of Quah’s Affidavit, I verily believe that it is a profound affront to common sense for a director in the International Relations directorate or indeed any other employee of MAS to contend that the Loan does not come from the GOS and/or to submit that the resources do not originate from the GOS Budget. It simply flies in the face of rudimentary understanding of the law of trusts, to wit, any and all funds at the disposal of MAS are obtained, retained and managed by MAS as trustee (and custodian) of the GOS, in which situation, GOS always remains the cestui que trust or beneficiary and, therefore, the true owner of such funds at all times.
12. MAS is a statutory board listed in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution. The funds it manages are not its own funds but the official foreign exchange reserves of Singapore. The Chairman and directors of MAS are appointed by the Executive. At the present time the Minister of Finance is the Chairman. The other directors are appointed by the President on the advice of the Minister. Thus, MAS is not an independent institution but clearly just an arm of the GOS. Its resources come directly from the GOS.
13. For the reasons as set out in Paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10 of this affidavit, the proposition advanced in Quah’s Affidavit that if the Loan is drawn upon, it will not involve any change in the Official Foreign Reserves, is immaterial to the issues raised in this Action.
AFFIRMED by the above named )
KENNETH ANDREW JEYARETNAM )
On this day of AUGUST 2012 )
A NOTARY PUBLIC
Keep up the fight, Ken. You deserve commendation for your efforts.
Thank you for bring this up. Although its like david going up goliath, it must nevertheless be brought up for the sake of our future!!
Thank you sir for fighting for transparency and accountability in Singapore. I verily believe that the judgement when it comes will again fly in the face off common sense and beyond us laymen. It will be interpreted via obscure meaning of the English lexicon to the advantage of the government.