Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong has expressed his wish that the Government would allocate more time between the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report and the calling of the next General Election (GE), so that for opposition parties can be better prepared.
Yesterday (4 Sept), the Elections Department (ELD) announced that the EBRC was convened last month, marking the first step towards the next General Election. The EBRC’s formation has been widely taken as confirmation that the next GE – which must be held by 15 April 2021 – is imminent.
The EBRC is in charge of revising the current electoral boundaries. The EBRC will present its recommendations to the Prime Minister through a report once it concludes the review.
In the past three General Elections (GEs), 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.
For the next GE, the EBRC has particularly been tasked to reduce the average size of group representation constituencies (GRCs) and increase the number of single-member constituencies (SMCs). This likely means that the electoral map will be changed significantly.
Opposition parties will need to wait for the EBRC to release its report to find out how the electoral boundaries have been re-drawn and decide which wards to target.
The opposition parties would also have to discuss which ward they wish to contest with other parties, to avoid multiple-corner fights between the ruling party and more than one opposition party, so that the opposition vote is not split.
Mr Yee, a former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), commented on the formation of the EBRC on his Facebook page, yesterday. Revealing that the WP were conducting house visits when the news about the EBRC formation was release, he wrote:
“It is purely coincidental that we chose today for our regular house visits. On our way there, the news reported that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee had been formed last month.
“Let’s hope there will be more transparency and details in the report, and more time given from the publication of the report to the calling of GE.”
When approached for comment on the formation of the EBRC, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh told TODAY: “I note the announcement by the Elections Department. The WP looks forward to the release of the EBRC report.”
Other opposition parties are also preparing for the upcoming GE. The Progress Singapore Party’s assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee told the publication that the party, led by veteran politician and ex-ruling party MP Dr Tan Cheng Bock, was “convening” to discuss the matter.
People’s Power Party (PPP) chief Goh Meng Seng told TODAY that the next GE could be held around end-November to early-December, at the earliest, while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary-general Mohamad Hamim Aliyas’ felt that the GE would likely take place in 2020, given the school holiday period in December 2019.
Singaporeans First Party (SFP) chief Tan Jee Say said that if the election is called in 2020, “it’s likely to be after the Budget so that they can announce all the (election) goodies.” He added that the period between the release of the EBRC and polling day has been “too short” in the past.
Echoing this sentiment, the SPP told the publication that the Government should provide “a fixed timeframe” between the release of the EBRC report and polling day to ensure “fair elections preparation”.
The SPP also expects the EBRC to produce a fair report and revise boundaries “in an impartial manner by adopting an evidence-based approach, complete with explanations provided in detail after the report is released.”
Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chairman Desmond Lim revealed that his party has been working the ground in preparation for the next GE. He said: “We have been continuously serving residents in the Pasir Ris Punggol GRC and Punggol SMC after the last GE, such as visiting senior citizens, and helping needy families.”
The Reform Party has also been serving residents in the wards it contested in the past. Asserting that the party has “learnt to be ever-ready” for the elections, the party asserted that it plans to contest Ang Mo Kio GRC, West Coast GRC and Radin Mas SMC in the next election.