The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) is chaired by the secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Tan Kee Yong, and the cabinet. The EBRC has been in the news for the past several months since its formation signals that a General Election is imminent.
The EBRC is responsible for recommending the number and boundaries of electoral wards prior to each election. In the past three elections, the EBRC has taken between two to four months to complete the review.
The time between the release of the EBRC’s report and polling day has ranged from as little as 17 days to as long as six months, in Singapore history. Opposition parties will need to wait for the EBRC to release its report to find out how the boundaries have been dissected.
The committee has been taking longer than usual to make its recommendations. The EBRC was convened in August last year but the Government revealed this week that the committee has yet to complete its deliberations.
There is strong speculation that the EBRC report will only be released after Budget 2020, which has been scheduled for 18 Feb, and that an election will be called shortly after the Budget.
Some netizens online are questioning the neutrality of the EBRC since the committee is chaired by Mr Tan – a senior civil servant who has publicly defended PM Lee in the past, most notably in 2017 when he rebutted accusations PM Lee’s siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang made during the explosive 38 Oxley Road dispute.
Mr Tan also chaired the EBRC in 2015, prior to that year’s general election. Certain recommendations the committee made, such as the recommendation to have Joo Chiat SMC absorbed into Marine Parade GRC, drew backlash and sparked questions over the neutrality of the EBRC.
Joo Chiat SMC, which had been a single member ward from 1997 to 2015, was absorbed into a group ward ahead of the 2015 election after it was hotly contested in the 2011 election. The Workers’ Party had lost the ward by just a hair of votes, earning a vote-share of 48.99 per cent, in 2011.
Besides Mr Tan, the EBRC that convened last year includes Housing Development Board CEO Cheong Koon Hean; Singapore Land Authority CEO, Tan Boon Khai; chief statistician from the Statistics Department, Wong Wee Kim; and Elections Department head, Koh Siong Ling. /TISG