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Ex-Straits Times editor urges politicians to love the country more than their party

Bertha Henson shared her views on the independence of the EBRC on Facebook, where she also questioned why the committee does not also include people who are not civil servants or people who report to Parliament instead of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)

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Veteran journalist Bertha Henson has said that politicians should know how important it is to love their country more than their party, in a recent Facebook post.

Ms Henson is a veteran editor who spent 26 years at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), mainly working for SPH’s flagship English publication The Straits Times. She now serves as part-time lecturer at the Communications and New Media Department at the National University of Singapore.

In a Facebook post published on Tuesday (21 Jan), Ms Henson commented on Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing’s recent remarks on the independence of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC).

The neutrality of the EBRC has remained a hot button topic, since the committee reports to the Prime Minister and is chaired by PM Lee’s secretary.

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Mr Chan was asked whether the EBRC can be completely independent of the Prime Minister’s Office, at the Singapore Perspectives conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies on Monday (20 Jan).

The Minister, who serves as the ruling party’s second assistant secretary-general, replied that the committee comprises of public servants with knowledge on matters like population and demographic changes and that he feels that the committee is independent and professional.

He said: “I have never doubted their independence. They do their job professionally. No matter who does the work, how it is done, you have to report to somebody and present it to be approved and issued.”

Besides Mr Tan Kee Yong – a senior civil servant who has publicly defended PM Lee in the past – the EBRC 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.

Sharing her views on the independence of the EBRC on Facebook, Ms Henson questioned  why the committee does not also include people who are not civil servants or people who report to Parliament instead of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Suggesting that non-partisan individuals like Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) could play a role in the committee, Ms Henson pointed out how Mr Chan had earlier said that policies must change as circumstances change.

Noting that Singaporeans are concerned about fair play as the elections loom, Ms Henson added that Singaporeans are told that the nation needs people who love the country more than they love themselves but politicians from all camps should also remember that they must love the country, more than they love their party:

Electoral boundaries committee chaired by secretary to PM Lee and cabinet

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