No by-election even if minority MP quits GRC? Shouldn’t the constitution trump the PEA?

Halimah Yacob’s announcement that she will contest the presidency has brought forth several issues that are worthy of debate and clarification.

Firstly, the inescapable quagmire of race has once again surfaced. To be fair, this has been the giant elephant in the room that has always been glossed over. As a meritorious society, should the politics of race even be a concern?

The ruling party brought in the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) ostensibly to protect minorities and to ensure that the minorities had a voice. What has never been satisfactorily clarified is why some constituencies are GRCs while some remain Single Member Constituencies (SMC). Aren’t minorities equally important across all constituencies? The seemingly arbitrary nature of the GRC and SMC construct have led some to question if the GRC was more about party protection and less about minority representation.

This begs the question – Unwittingly or otherwise, is the racial equation being used to ensure party power?

The changes to the Elected Presidency (EP) brought the politics of race into the forefront again with accusations ranging from reverse racism to tokenism. The EP does not really wield much power in Singapore’s political system. How then is carving it out for minorities deemed a means to protect minorities?

In my mind, a true meritocracy is based on merit. One’s race, gender or socio economic strata should have no bearing on one’s abilities or lack thereof. I am not suggesting that unconscious biases do not exist. But surely, the way to overcoming the problem lies in creating equal opportunities for all as opposed to carving out even more categories to divide society?

I have no quarrel with Yacob’s credentials as an individual. By all accounts, she is an outstanding candidate. Surely that should be what stands her in good stead. Her “Malayness” has nothing to do with it. However, because of the government’s insistence on the changes to the EP to protect minorities, her stellar qualities are forced to take back seat to her “Malayness”. This does not do Yacob any justice. Nor does it advance the position of Malays. All it does say (at least to me) is that a position that wields no real power is good enough for minorities. Does this serve to protect minorities? It seems to me is that all it does is to ensure that certain candidates who are deemed “anti establishment” do not qualify for this position.

Next, you have the by-election conundrum. It appears that there are ongoing discussions as to whether or not a by-election needs to be held. The pieces of legislation in question are Section 49(1) of the Constitution and Section 24(2A) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA). While the former necessitates the calling of a by-election, the latter does not.

However, shouldn’t the constitution trump the PEA? Besides, isn’t it clear that the Constitution was drafted before the concept of GRCs was created?

To me, it seems obvious that the Constitution intends for an election to be called every time an MP vacates office. I understand the logistical permutations of GRCs – i.e. do all members of that GRC have to step down? What happens if an opposition member is elected? Can he/she work with the other GRC members?

This brings to the forefront the relevance of the concept of GRCs in the first place. Is this the best way to protect minorities? Or does it cause more problems than it purports to solve?

 

Ghui

* Article first appeared on The Online Citizen.

 

Editor’s note - In February this year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing said in his reply to Worker’s Party MP for Aljunied GRC, Pritam Singh’s question on whether a by-election would be held in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC if Mdm Halimah runs for presidency, “Even if we have one less, there are 24 out of 89, which is 27 percent of Parliament.”, implying that there will be no by-election in the event Mdam Halimah vacates her seat. Mdm Halimah has since submitted her resignation on Monday and accepted by the Prime Minister.

 

 

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24 Responses to “No by-election even if minority MP quits GRC? Shouldn’t the constitution trump the PEA?”

  • opposition dude:

    Since the PAP is so deathly afraid of a GRC BE then just have the BE for Halimah’s ward since she is the one who has vacated.

    If goondu Loong still does not agree then he really isn’t fit to be PM.

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  • never voted pap:

    … Halimah has since submitted her resignation on Monday and accepted by the Prime Minister.

    all the wayang to prevent a better person, Dr TCB, from serving citizens.

    can even go to the extreme in saying an india muslim is malay.

    but since stupid 70% asked for it, what more to say but to wait for more and more of the stupid 70% to be displaced by pap pro alien policies.

    right now, it is all a waiting game. how soon 20% of the 70% become jobless or have their homes repossessed or both.

    it will sure happen one. just a matter of when.

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  • Titiana Ann Xavier:

    Having lost a GRC once, the PAP is so fearful that it may happen again if a by-election is held in M-YT GRC. The by-election effect favours the Opposition as voters know that the PAP is sure to be in power. Dr Chee must resort to legal action to force a by-election. Such an action will prove beyond any reasonable doubt whether what Li Shengwu said about the kangaroos was baseless or true.

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  • MPs are servants:

    “As MPs, always remember we are servants of the people, not masters.”

    Remember this PM’s message to his PAP MPs? Now, please tell us, how could the servants make the decision whether to have a By-Election or not? Shouldn’t it be the residents who decide if they want a BE to elect another MP?

    So what if it’s unfair to the other MPs? This is what you call a GROUP. You win as a group. You lose as a group. Anything happens to a member, the whole group face the consequences. Whose fault is it in the first place that your member decides to resign?

    As a servant, Keechiu Chan should not have the final say if a By-Election has to be called.

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  • kf:

    It’s not the number of minority MPs, it’s the principle. The MPs are there because each of them have gone through at least one election. Getting a grassroot adviser in is like telling the whole world that I have a backdoor way to get grassroot chap to serve the citizens, even above a NMP or NCMP. It’s worse if this suggestion came from a president candidate carrying an Indian descent. Looks like she is prepared to forgo the principle of why she was elected as an MP in the first place. I have no issues with an Indian president, but don’t shout Malay when you can bend the rules for an Indian. This is playing the race card too far. The government’s preferred candidate is a very smart person. She knows she doesn’t need to put in hard work yet she can collect millions every year. Just look at the current president and you know. He virtually disappeared from being a people’s president after the media covered him in public for showing help to someone. Then think of Nathan and him together and how well they handled the safeguarding of reserves. The government kept harping that this is their primary role but we lost taxpayers’ money through investments in the billions, yet they didn’t bat an eye nor seek accountability. So if you vote for the government’s candidate, you would have voted for a clever person but not one who has the mettle to look after a nation of people.

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  • this is a joke!:

    The PAP G is now caught in a dilemma as far as the to-be-vacated seat of a minority seat is concerned!!…to call or not to call a BE that is the question!!…so how to call a BE especially when the seat is of a ‘minority’ nature!! What will happen if an opposition candidate win this ‘minority’ seat, how to merge him or her into the PAP GRC?? Will there be 2 separate political parties running the same GRC concurrently!!??..Another one of those ‘ownself squeeze ownself’ balls!!??

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  • PATRIOT of TEMESAK:

    The father said it the son follow through “Singapore is NOT READY for an NON -Chinese Prime Minister” How RACIST can a supposed leader be???

    Now…what I would like to know is what the Wooden Piece of Shit “Thinks”???

    “They are NOT my brothers” ie Father & Son hallucination team…I Goh choktong started life in a place where they carry my shit every morning better known as Night-Soil-Carrier AND today I am a Multi Millionaire possibly a family of Billionaire if I include my son’s fortune

    So… I don’t give a F…!!! who is President or PM

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  • I not stupid:

    Editor’s note - In February this year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing said ………
    ….
    Can somebody educate me, what is a “minister in the prime minister’s office” all about?
    The pm needs someone to hold his hand while working iszit?
    Is that a real designation or invented only by pap?
    Im quite politically illiterate but i know enuf not to vote for these miws in 2 GEs.

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  • Sperma:

    Seems like singaporeans will accept anything questionable as long as the country is PERCEIVED TO BE GROWING GDP.

    THIS IS A RECIPE FOR EVENTUAL COLLAPSE.

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  • nathan:

    If Halimau is from a SMC (Single Member Constituency), do you think she will be allowed to resign and run for presidency?

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  • LIONS:

    Ever seem a spoilt brat who wants his cake and eat it?

    Oh come on,u want to reserve this EP for malay becos afraid to lose to sgs like Dr TCB.
    Then,also afraid to lose GRC,so reluctant to call by-election?

    Are you sure you are as meritocratic as you claim?
    Or just mere meritoCRAP$?

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  • Change We Must:

    Things are getting more confusing and contradicting. The intent of GRC is to provide minority voices then now they say vacant minority MP can be represented by grassroots leaders??? So they are telling us that PAP government is the law?? Today they lie to Singaporeans and tomorrow they provide more lies and thereafter what PAP government says are all lies. So simple !

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  • Nothing Burger!:

    A by-election is required in the marshaling-yew tee constituency! This is all the more so because the minority mp chooses to resign from her job. She did not die in office and as such there is no reason not to call for a by-election.

    The election laws would be breached under the group representative constituency if the position is not filled by a by-elections.

    In law-abiding Singapore, it is thus necessary to comply with the Rule of Law just like The Hague arbitration on the South China Sea. With her resignation, the current GRC in marshaling should be voided as it is now no longer in compliance with the Rule of Law?

    Not holding a by-elections would also mean that the minority citizens of marshaling-yew tee are not served from now till 2020! The law is now broken and the GRC should be voided!

    It is only right that residents of marshiling-yew tee make a police report or a magistrate’s complaint if no by-elections is declared!

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  • Lye Khuen Way:

    The whole Elected Presidency is not a Big joke. It’s role is no more than ceremonial.

    That wonderful 2ND key mooted decades ago is moot. Yes! The Elected President is a lame duck if he has to rely on his Presidential Council for all decisions.

    Now that race has been put back into the intricacies of how one can contest, aren’t we regressing?

    Why not go back all the way to appointing a decent Singaporean to be the Ceremonial Head of State?
    Stop the Wayangs!

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  • Manipulating pimps:

    “As MPs, always remember we are servants of the people, not masters.”
    The “MP” here stands for Manipulating Professionals, perverting even the constitution to turn an Indian into a Malay, outdoing even magician David Copperfield.

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  • 陈大婶:

    恭喜杰哥当选不吉巴多,人大代表。

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  • M-YT - 32% Voted Opposition!:

    Can the 32% petition for a By Election?

    There could be more tha 32% now as many are fed up after their MP ‘abandoned’ them for ‘greener pastures’. The MP has betrayed the support of her voters!

    SDP has a case if the electorate at M-YT demands a By-Election!

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  • carteblanche:

    The government can act with impunity because they are pampered by the electorate over the last half a century. It literally have a carte blanche to do whatever it likes to perpetuate itself in power.

    Despite the half century relationship, this is a government that does not trust its people. Yes, people, including its own people! See the hapless Tony sibeh buaysong on NDP, refuse to shake hand, etc.

    Political capital built by the first generation of selfless MIW is slowly being eroded by the third generation of selfish MIW.

    Singapore has served its historical purpose and will recede into historical oblivion.

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  • By Election please:

    Should have a By election..
    Need to be seen to be fair to the residents there.
    Alternatively let the residents there decide whether they want to have a By election to serve them better.

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  • Old Man Called Us Duds:

    opposition dude:
    Since the PAP is so deathly afraid of a GRC BE then just have the BE for Halimah’s ward since she is the one who has vacated.

    If goondu Loong still does not agree then he really isn’t fit to be PM.

    So what if goondu agrees, it does not matter, whatever he said is simply not worth listening to and believing by now.

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  • Greedy Evil Corrupt Dishonest:

    Dafts can reason and kpkb all they want. Clown prince is going to cheat and lie his way to power and riches. Dafts took away all the checks. Evil is triumphant. Get what you voted.

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  • Dafts Will Be Dafts:

    MPs are servants:
    “As MPs, always remember we are servants of the people, not masters.”

    Remember this PM’s message to his PAP MPs? Now, please tell us, how could the servants make the decision whether to have a By-Election or not? Shouldn’t it be the residents who decide if they want a BE to elect another MP?

    So what if it’s unfair to the other MPs? This is what you call a GROUP. You win as a group. You lose as a group. Anything happens to a member, the whole group face the consequences. Whose fault is it in the first place that your member decides to resign?

    As a servant, Keechiu Chan should not have the final say if a By-Election has to be called.

    You believe what cheaters and liars said??

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  • Like Father Like Son:

    Lye Khuen Way:
    The whole Elected Presidency is not a Big joke. It’s role is no more than ceremonial.

    That wonderful 2ND key mooted decades ago is moot. Yes! The Elected President is a lame duck if he has to rely on his Presidential Council for all decisions.

    Now that race has been put back into the intricacies of how one can contest, aren’t we regressing?

    Why not go back all the way to appointing a decent Singaporean to be the Ceremonial Head of State?
    Stop the Wayangs!

    PAP created and altered the elected presidency to suit their self serving needs. When the idea of 2nd key was mooted, that was when old fak was contemplating to be president himself, he bowed under public rumour to be ministar mentor instead. Don’t forget the history. The seed of Sillypore decline started from the old man. The greed of astronomical salaries, the spoilt gambling of cpf money. The litigious mess was also created by the old bugger. His spawn is only following his footstep.

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  • The Elasticity of sperm:

    By virtue of Democracy, no BE is perfectly ok because the PEOPLE NEVER OBJECTED.

    It’s really the People.

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