Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing, has confirmed that no by-election will be called if a minority MP in a GRC resigns to contest the upcoming Presidential Election (PE).
Mr Chan was responding to a question by Workers Party’s MP Pritam Singh referencing Mdm Halimah Yacob, who is rumored to be the PAP’s slated candidate for the coming PE.
Madam Halimah is the Speaker of the House, as well as the only minority MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. Should she be fielded as a candidate for the PE, she would have to step down as an MP, leaving the GRC with an all-Chinese slate of MPs.
Mr Singh had asked:
…the very idea of race poses other considerations in certain cases of reserved elections involving public sector track or public sector deliberative track candidates. For example, in the case of Madam Speaker, should the Honourable Speaker decide to stand as a candidate, what happens to the very existence of the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, which by law requires a Malay MP as one of its political representatives in parliament? Should it be passed, does this Bill herald a new precedent in marked contrast to the scenario in Jurong GRC some years ago when the late PAP MP Mr Ong Chit Chung passed on? Does the Bill, and the prospect of reserved Presidential elections change the Government’s thinking on this question: Would a by-election be called in a GRC when the minority member of a GRC steps down to contest in a Presidential election? Can the Government set its position out on this matter in light of the introduction of reserved Presidential elections?
In his response, 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.
Mr Chan said that since Parliament already has 25 minority-race MPs, so one more or less doesn’t really matter as the races are adequately represented.
(These 25 were) 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.
Netizens are however, questioning Mr Chan’s rationale and basis for the no by-election.
Andrew Loh, a prominent blogger dismisses Mr Chan’s argument as nonsense:
When did Singapore adopt a proportional representation system??
And where in our Constitution is this stated – that there is no need for a by-election if Parliament already has a certain number of minority-race MPs?
I mean, things have to have basis in law, right? Surely, you can’t just make things up to suit your argument, right?
And this raises many questions such as: So a GRC can be made up of entirely Chinese MPs? Then what is the whole point of having GRCs?
And what is the minimum number of minority-race MPs in Parliament required before it is necessary to hold a by-election in vacant GRCs seats?
All this looks to me like the govt chops and chooses entirely arbitrarily, without any basis in the Constitution.
It’s like suka suka chop here, change there, using race to its political advantage and in the event making a whole mockery of our presidential and parliamentary system.
Shouldn’t someone ask some serious questions about this nonsense?
Another blogger, Abdul Salim Harun from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC wrote:
…a By-Election should be called considering that a GRC should consist of a minority MP. Currently, all her other colleagues in the GRC are all Chinese.
Aside from that, it is only right that residents and voters of Marsiling Constituency should have their own MP and representative in Parliament, an MP they can called their own, and not MPs loan from other wards.
The next General Election will only be held 3 years down the road and it is not right for Marsiling Constituency to be left without their own MP.
Furthermore, the Government had already stated that the GRC scheme was implemented to enshrined minority representation in Parliament and at least one of the MPs in the GRC must be from the minority race.
As can be seen from the current Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Mdm Halimah is the only minority MP in the GRC while the other 3 are of the Chinese race. If she intents to run for the Presidency, the GRC will be left without a minority MP.
So, Chan Chun Sing is totally wrong when he says that there’s not a need for any By-Election in regards of his “Mdm President” if she were to leave the GRC.
Some cynical Netizens have opined that this rule applies only to PAP-run GRCs and if say Pritam Singh from the Workers Party were to resign from Aljunied GRC, “sure got by-election one”.
Who do you agree with?