Singapore — Opposition Peoples Voice party leader Lim Tean took to social media to comment on the subject of “free riders”, to whom Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred in a speech on Wednesday (Sept 2) during the debate on the President’s Address at the opening of Parliament.
Mr Lee had highlighted the danger posed by people who vote for the opposition in the belief that others would vote for his People’s Action Party for it to remain in power.
Mr Lim, a lawyer who led a PV team to contest in Jalan Besar GRC in the 2020 General Election, put it succinctly in a Facebook post on Friday (Sept 4): “Abolish the GRC system to get rid of free riders in Parliament.” The PV team lost in the GRC, receiving 34.63 per cent of the vote, compared to 65.37 per cent for the PAP team.
Workers’ Party (WP) chief and Leader of Opposition chief Pritam Singh had replied to Mr Lee that the residents in the constituencies won by the WP voted for it because they knew that having elected opposition MPs was ultimately good for Singapore. His party retained Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC and won in the new Sengkang GRC. The latter was the biggest upset for the PAP in the General Election.
The GRC system came into effect in 1988, as a way to ensure minority communities in Singapore have representation in Parliament. The then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, mentioned the plan in 1982, noting the concern that minority races such as the Malay or Indian would eventually be underrepresented in Parliament. He said the young voters of the time were not as aware of the importance of having a racially balanced line-up of MPs.
Under the system, teams fielding a GRC must include at least one member from a minority racial community.
Members of the online community agreed with Mr Lim that the GRC system enabled “free riders” to get into Parliament.
“The whole General Electoral system favours the ruling PAP. Hence, it’s correct to say that we do not have a free and fair GE,” commented Facebook user DS Mike. On the GRC system, the netizen explained it “goes against the democratic principle of ‘one man, one vote’ and was more ‘one man, several votes.'”
Facebook user James Kok noted that by abolishing the GRC system, MPs would be selected by the residents who deem them fit and not “piggyback into Parliament based on some big names.”
One person, however, pointed out a positive outcome from the system in the case of Sengkang GRC.
How Do We Get Rid Of Free Riders In Parliament? ABOLISH THE GRC SYSTEM!
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