MARUAH’s responds to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comments on the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament today (13 July 2015) that he has asked the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee to have smaller Group Representation Constituencies, and to have at least 12 Single Member Constituencies. This committee was formed two months ago. The Committee, Mr Lee said, is in the midst of deliberations and will make recommendations to the Prime Minister when it is ready.

MARUAH would like to raise its objections to this approach as advocated by the Prime Minister.

The Elections Boundaries Review Committee needs to draw its Constituency Boundaries in a transparent manner and the procedure should be accessible to the public through a consultation process. The final deliberations are then submitted to the Prime Minister and Parliament.

MARUAH has monitored the 2011 General Elections, Presidential Election and the By-Elections. In 2014 and 2015 we conducted four election forums based on five research papers. (https://maruahsg.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/maruah-ebrc-position-paper.pdf).

Our research on Electoral Boundary Delimitation reiterates the need to return to Single Member Constituencies to ensure that there is universal and equal suffrage, held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures as stated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21 (3). We reminded that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly enshrines the civil and political rights of individuals, including the rights of electors, which includes the principle of one person, one vote, must apply, and within the framework of each State’s electoral system, the vote of one elector should be equal to the vote of another.

MARUAH asked for an independent and impartial Elections Board Review Committee whose members are appointed on expertise in cartography, demographics, statistics or election administration. We also suggested that the Chairman of the Elections Board Review Committee could be added to the list of public officers under Section 22 of the Constitution who can only be appointed or removed from office with the concurrence of the President.

We also recommended that electoral boundaries be aligned to Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Planning Areas as much as possible as these form a natural community of shared interests. This will create stronger community identity and prevent the appearance of gerrymandering that result when HDB estates are arbitrarily broken up into different Group Representation Constituencies.

It is our hope that the process of drawing up electoral boundaries will be a transparent occurrence and with consultations from citizens.

Ms Braema Mathi
President
MARUAH Singapore