Has the Prime Minister through his comments cast doubts if the votes of Singaporeans are secret?
Members of 3 different political parties – Singapore People’s Party, Reform Party and People’s Power Party – band together to release a media statement.
We publish it in full.
In speaking to the press at his walkabout on Saturday (30 Apr 2016) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “If Paya Lebar had been an SMC, Murali would be their MP by now. But it was a Group Representation Constituency, so overall, we missed winning by a very narrow bit.”[i]
Voters in a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) do not vote at divisional level, but cast their votes for a cluster of individuals who are contesting in the GRC. Considering this fact, the Prime Minister’s comments are puzzling.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) announced in February 2015 that Mr Pillai was heading the Paya Lebar division within the constituency[ii], but such division of work among PAP’s representatives is purely administrative and is neither prescribed by law nor under the purview of Parliament[iii]. When a ‘division’ itself does not officially exist, how would the Prime Minister know how the vote went in that ‘division’?
What former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in 1997, “Each party- Workers’ Party, People’s Action Party – will have counting agents at the counting station. It is not something secret, which the PAP knows and the other side does not. It is transparent, it is clear as daylight. If a counting agent is alert when votes are counted, they will know how each precinct votes,[iv]” may shed some light on how PM Lee might have such information.
But consider what the Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC, Mr Chen Show Mao, pointed out: “All voters of Aljunied GRC were presented with a simple choice between a slate of five WP candidates vs. five PAP candidates<…>voters from more than one division of Aljunied GRC voted in the polling centres in the division Paya Lebar, and had their votes counted together out of the ballot boxes.”[v]
If what the MP for Aljunied GRC had said is accurate, then it is impossible for counting agents of the candidates to know how the vote went for a precinct or in a ‘division’.
The Election Department is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister’s comment may also cause voters to doubt if their votes were indeed secret. To instill public confidence that Prime Minister had not used a department under his purview, to unfairly gain advantage over his political opponents, it is important for the Prime Minster to clarify how he came to be informed that the PAP had won the vote in the division of Paya Lebar.
Considering that the voters in Bukit Batok single member constituency will go to vote this Saturday (7 May), we the undersigned ask the Prime Minister to better clarify his comments to the media and allay the concerns of voters.
Goh Meng Seng
Law Kim Hwee
[iii] “Parliament Clerk: There’s no law prescribing division of duties of GRC MPs”, published in TREmeritus dated 17 Apr 2013
[iv] Chua Mui Hoong, Straits Times, 1 Jan 1997, page 1, “PM: Precincts with greater support get upgraded first”
Send in your scoop to firstname.lastname@example.org