Sylvia Lim opposed motion to revise Parliamentary Elections Act because the motion sought to entrench GRCs

August 28, 2008 by
Filed under: Archives 

NCMP Sylvia Lim made a speech in Parliament on Wed 27 Aug on the issue of by-elections and GRCs.

She said that she was unable to support the motion tabled by Nominated MPs Thio Li-Ann and Loo Choon Yoong for amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Act because this motion sought to entrench the GRC system, which WP is opposed to.

Sylvia Lim also pointed out what she thought were flaws in the motion tabled.

Firstly, the motion proposed that the moment a Minority member left a GRC, a by-election would be called. Sylvia Lim asserted that it is unjustified for by-elections to be triggered by the departure of a single member, including a Minority member, because elections are won or lost by GRC teams not necessarily on the merits of any one member.

In this respect, Sylvia Lim’s position is in complete agreement with the stand made by PM Lee Hsien Loong.

Secondly, the motion proposed that once half or more of the members of a GRC team have departed, a by-election in the GRC should be called as well. Sylvia Lim said that this would mean that we could be left with a situation no by-election is called even if 1 or 2 members departed. The issue of the constituents being under-represented immediately arises.

Thirdly, the motion asked the House to amend the Parliamentary Elections Act such that a writ of by-election shall be called in the event that a Member of a single member constituency vacates his or her seat for any reason. Sylvia Lim pointed out that is already provided for under the Constitution and the Parliamentary Elections Act. In particular, Article 49 of the Constitution states that whenever the seat of an elected Member has become vacant for any reason, the vacancy shall be filled by election in the manner provided by law. The Parliamentary Elections Act, S 24, further provides that the President shall issue a writ of election “to supply vacancies caused by death, resignation or otherwise”.

Sylvia Lim then gave her views on what she thought was wrong with the GRC system:

  • A team member’s non-co-operation could sound the political death knell for the rest, including during the period leading up to nomination day.
  • The motion tabled in Parliament itself shows that the GRC system does not promote representative democracy.
  • GRCs increase the bar for those who intend to contest, increasing the likelihood of walkovers.
  • GRCs serve the PAP’s interest rather than the people’s interest: When Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke of the PAP’s recruitment challenge in 2006, he said: “Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics.” Are we to infer that the PAP candidates these days are not what they used to be? It also seems that the GRC is a recruitment and training tool for the ruling party.
  • GRC has weakened politicians’ mandates: Back in 1988, Dr Ahmad Mattar already hit the nail on the head. His views were quoted in Parliament, as follows: “As a Malay, I don’t think I would like to contest in any Elections where my victory is guaranteed – not because I am a ‘strong’ candidate but because I have a so-called ‘strong’ twin brother to lean on.”

On the issue of minority representation, Sylvia Lim said: “How do we ensure minority representation? Singapore’s history has shown that, in the past, minority candidates stood and won single seats. PAP MPs such as Mr Dhanabalan, Mr Rajaratnam, Mr Sidek Saniff and Mr Zulkifli Mohd have done so; so have opposition leaders like Mr Jeyaretnam in Anson, a predominantly Chinese constituency. This was so even in the 1984 GE. Are we saying that Singapore has regressed as a society? Or is the PAP now saying that they have less confidence in their current minority Ministers, MPs or new candidates winning on their own?”

Comments

3 Comments on Sylvia Lim opposed motion to revise Parliamentary Elections Act because the motion sought to entrench GRCs

  1. talkcocking on Fri, 29th Aug 2008 12:29 am
  2. WP Yaw Shin Leong’s intellectual dishonesty redux!

    Now that LHL has publicly said that it is the Party that is elected and NOT the individual candidate (even to the extent that if an SMC seat is vacant a by-election would not necessarily be called – captures Yaw’s ‘beloved’ PAP Teo Ho Pin), this appears to put yet another nail into WP Yaw Shin Leong’s ‘political coffin’ for being both intellectually dishonest and a bloody idiot to boot.

    Low Thia Khiang, Slyvia Lim and the rest of the WP CEC you have been warned, keep intellectually dishonest Yaw Sin Leong on the WP CEC at your own peril

  3. viewpt on Fri, 29th Aug 2008 10:05 pm
  4. blame it on the current political model. to be fair, which political party in power will welcome disruptions and challenges to its ideological supremacy?

    democracy can only be facilitated in a tributary process. the closest to what i have read was from an ST article about selectoral democracy mentioned in one of our neighboring countries. the problem for me is determining the tributaries that will satisfy the fractured communities.

    hopefully, like streams converging into a unifying diversification, maybe then, everyone will realize ownership of our beautiful earth.

  5. Ng Teck Siong on Sat, 30th Aug 2008 1:36 am
  6. By now Singaporeans must be disappointed and frustrated after watching the Parliamentary debate and reading the newspapers that the by-election in the Jurong GRC is not going to be held by the PAP government, although many voters, in fact, 70 people out of l00 of Jurong GRC want a by-election. It is their real and sacred right to choose the whole group of the representatives again and no one should deny them this right because the entity of the Jurong GRC is no longer valid with the passing away of Mr. Ong Chit Chong and a new mandate is necessary for the four remaining and existing MPs with a new member to form a new team to contest if they have any respect for the Principles and Ideals of democracy. If they refuse to get a new mandate but to continue until the next General Election they will loss their credibility and respectability. That means if they are prepared to help their party to destroy this democratic institution, vey soon they will do so even other institutions. If PAP can demolish these institutions as and when they like what hope do the people of Singapore have. No wonder thousands of our people are migrating to other countries, when they realise real democracy and human rights are gone in Singapore under the PAP rule.
    When too much power is given to the PAP one election after another, Power is concentrated in the hand of the executive as the result the checks and balances system is demolished because the laws was passed to make the other two branches of government i.e. the judiciary and parliament under the control of the executive branch. When this happens all other institutions like free press, freedom of peaceful demostration, independent labour movement and the right of the citizens to choose their representative are also destroyed. My fellow Singaporeans please do not trust too much power in the hand of the PAP any longer for the sake of our future and for the future generation so that they wil be able to live under a democratic system and not under a tyrannical system. Please do not let the next generation to blame us for not maintaining their democratic rights and protecting their freedom. I think we should by now realise our rights and democracy are being taken away. We must reclaim them back if we want to live in dignity and respectability. We must tell the Prime Minister do not be arrogant and do not forget parliamentarians are the people respresentatives only and not their master or boss who can lord over the people.

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