Singapore—Since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Wednesday, September 4, that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) had been formed, the country has been abuzz with speculation as to who will be contesting in the next General Election (GE).
As The Straits Times (ST) reports, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has been the first of the ministers who has touched on the next GE, with comments he made to the press on September 7, Saturday, at the opening of ABC Waters @ Kallang River, a four-year, $86-million drainage improvement project.
Dr Ng told members of the media that those who wish to contest for the next GE need to make their presence felt on the ground early, especially those who are first-time candidates. This, he said, will give them a good sense of what it means to be a Member of Parliament (MP).
It takes time for would-be MPs to get a feel for the contexts of residents so they can comprehend the issues that residents face, particularly for those who do not have much exposure on a grassroots level.
It also takes an amount of time for aspirants to Parliament to be accepted by the residents.
The Defense Minister was asked concerning when new candidates for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) would be introduced.
He answered that this would be up to PM Lee, but added,
“But I think the assumption must be that if you’re a potential candidate, you won’t wait till then.
You would already be speaking to residents and understanding their problems, so I think you should be doing your groundwork.”
The media also asked Dr Ng whether Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, the constituency he represents, would be redrawn by the ERBC, would result in a Single-Member Constituency getting hived off.
He told the press,
“But as the Prime Minister has already announced that he wanted smaller sized constituencies, my advice to my PAP branch members is that we must assume that every constituency can be single-member constituencies.
We must be prepared to contest the elections on that basis… if it does happen to any of the five current divisions of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, we are prepared.”
The ERBC is now responsible for decreasing the average size of group representation constituencies (GRC), and also create more single-member constituencies (SMCs).
Some political analysts believe that the country is done with six-member group representation constituencies (GRCs), though changing the current system will take time.
The Straits Times (ST) reports that this is because voters no longer believe that bigger is better when it comes to GRCs.
The announcement concerning the convening of the ERBC included a portion that said the committee was given a term of reference by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to decrease the average size of these constituencies.
The average size of GRCs has decreased from 5.36 to 4.75, after PM Lee began to institute changes to the electoral system in the effort to make it reflect voters’ aspirations.
The ST quotes political observer Derek da Cunha as mentioning the likelihood of there being no more 6-member GRCs in the next GE, which is mandated to be held by April 2021. -/TISG