Another Disappointing Report from EBRC: Hazel Poa

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The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee has again issued a disappointing report.

The absence of clear-cut and objective criteria for any change to electoral boundaries from one General Election (GE) to the next bodes ill for building trust between Singaporeans and the Government.

The committee reported that it used a guide of 20,000 to 37,000 electors per MP. When the upper bound is almost twice the lower bound, this allows far too much leeway for subjective manipulation, and is therefore hardly a guide at all. A buffer in the region of 5% to 10% would have been far more reasonable.

The above is the only “criteria” mentioned in the report. There was no explanation, for example, of why it was necessary for Moulmein Kallang GRC, helmed by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, to be carved up and divided into Jalan Besar GRC, Tanjong Pagar GRC, Bishan Toa Payoh GRC and Holland Bukit Timah GRC. Nor was there any explanation of why it was necessary for Joo Chiat SMC and Whampoa SMC to be lumped into GRCs.

Equally arbitrary are decisions on :

  • The number of MPs to be returned;
  • The number of SMCs;
  • The number of MPs in each GRC. We now have GRCs of varying sizes of 4, 5 or 6 MPs. Why is that necessary? Most glaring of all, why is it necessary to have two 6MP GRCs in Ang Mo Kio GRC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC?

We also take issue with the fact that the EBRC took instructions from the Prime Minister, who is a member and leader of a political party that will be contesting in this coming GE. This is a clear conflict of interest, no different from the conflicts of interest found in the management of AHPETC, and the Auditor-General’s report on the various Ministries and Statutory Boards.

It is not difficult to set clear, fair and defensible guidelines on the issues mentioned above, and have boundaries that could only be changed if those guidelines are breached.

We also have 2 questions for the EBRC:

  • Were the detailed voting results of the last GE (e.g. voting results by polling stations or polling precincts) made available to the EBRC or its supporting secretariat staff?
  • Were the detailed voting results of the last GE used in any way in the EBRC’s deliberations on electoral boundaries?

This year, Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence. We have matured as a democracy and higher standards of governance are now expected, with a population that wants to play a more participative role in deciding our future together. If the Government continues to resist greater transparency and accountability, it is not doing so in the interest of Singaporeans.

Hazel Poa
Acting Secretary-General
16th Central Executive Committee
National Solidarity Party