The TODAY newspaper reported today that the People’s Action Party (PAP) member who was abruptly asked to step down Grassroots Adviser in Aljunied GRC just weeks before the 2015 General Election (GE) has been helping Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Member of Parliament Halimah Yacob at her Meet-the-People Session (MPS) for more than a year. The former Adviser of Kaki Bukit division in Aljunied GRC, Kahar Hassan, was dropped from the PAP team which went on to contest in the GE amidst rumours that he was “hardworking” but perhaps did not build up rapport with his residents.
The newspaper further said that Mr Kahar, apart from helping out at the MPS, also organises and participates in community engagement activities, including explaining new policies and the 2017 Budget measures to Marsiling residents. He was tight-lipped if he would participate in future elections.
Mr Kahar had previously acknowledged Madam Halimah as his mentor and that prior to taking up the role as the Adviser to Kaki Bukit division, he had learnt how to connect with residents by following her on block visits. While being the grassroots adviser, he would occasionally seek Madam Halimah’s advice and opinions on matters.
At the parliamentary debate on the Presidential Election (amendment) Bill in February, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing, accidentally referred to Madam Halimah as “Madam President” instead of “Madam Speaker”. Netizens who responded to Mr Chan’s slip wondered if it was a freudian one.
In his address, Mr Chan further confirmed that no by-election will be called if a minority candidate in a GRC resigned to contest the Presidential Election.
Mr Chan explained that the GRC system, which requires each team to include at least one member of a minority race, has been in place since 1988, and that it has two purposes. First to ensure enough minority members in Parliament and secondly, to ensure no political campaign on issues of race and religion.
He noted that there are 25 minority MPs out of 89 – “more than what you’d expect proportionately from adding up the percentage of Malays, Indians and other minorities”.
“Even if we have one less, that is 24 out of 89, which is 27 per cent of Parliament,” Mr Chan said.