Article 1: There is some gerrymandering: WP
However, boundaries report makes identifying areas to contest clearer: Opposition party chairman Sylvia Lim
The release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report took the Workers’ Party (WP) by surprise. WP chairman Sylvia Lim told MediaCorp last night that the party was still studying the report.
“Personally, I wasn’t expecting it today. I thought it would be sometime in March. But then it doesn’t matter because we’ll still have to respond to it,” she said.
Ms Lim did not mince her words about the report and how it affected the WP. “What struck us, at first glance, is that we believe there is some gerrymandering involved in favour of the ruling party.
“If you look at Aljunied GRC, for example, we note very quickly there have been nine precincts given out of Aljunied GRC. Seven to Ang Mo Kio GRC and two to Punggol-Pasir Ris.
“And particularly these precincts are actually very close to Hougang SMC (Single Member Constituency), where we know there is significant WP support.”
She said in their place, six precincts, carved out from Marine Parade, had been given to Aljunied GRC. [editor’s note: as one forumer pointed out: the 6 new ones from Marine Parade are voters from landed property, condos or expensive HDB flats which presumbly are rich and successful and highly likely supporters of the ruling party]
In the last General Election in 2006, Ms Lim led a WP team against a People’s Action Party team anchored by Foreign Minister George Yeo. Her team won 43.9 per cent of the vote, the best showing by an opposition team in the polls.
Ms Lim said: “The total number of electors, there’s not much difference under the new Aljunied GRC compared to the previous Aljunied GRC, so why is there a need for a change?”
WP vice-chairman Mohd Rahizan Yaacob, who was part of the WP team which contested in Aljunied GRC in the 2006 elections, said the party would have to look ahead and plan for the elections.
Ms Lim added: “As far as the new boundaries are concerned, whether it’s Aljunied or the other areas WP is working on, we would still need to work on the new areas that have been given over to the constituencies that we’re hoping to contest. So there’s new work to be done.”
She said they would like to focus on the areas they were more familiar with.
And they would be interested in Aljunied and East Coast GRCs, as well as Hougang and Joo Chiat SMCs.
Ms Lim added they were also keen on Nee Soon GRC, Punggol East and Sengkang West.
Still, the release of the report has made things clearer.
She said: “Now, at least we know which are the definite areas. And once we work out exactly which constituencies we’ll want to contest in, then our ground work will be much more focused.”
She also expected a meeting among the opposition parties, including WP, to sort out the constituencies where they planned to contest.
- Why should such details on the support level be available to any political party especially the ruling party?
- Does the opposition parties have the same level of access to this kind of data?
Article 3: Boundaries review panel should be neutral
THE Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) Report for the coming General Election has sparked accusations from the Opposition political parties of gerrymandering to establish a political advantage for the ruling party and its incumbents.
This state of affairs will remain so long as the EBRC comes under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office.
The perception among the Opposition is reinforced by the fact that the Prime Minister spelt out in the committee’s terms of reference, when he convened the EBRC last October, that the average size of the GRCs should shrink to no more than five members. The result is exactly five in the report. He also said there should be “at least” 12 single-member constituencies – and now we have that exact number.
This EBRC system can be improved upon. The committee, which is currently chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, should not report to any person(s) of affiliated political interests. It must be neutral in all aspects. It should comprise non-partisan Singaporeans with no political links and come under the purview of the President of Singapore, who is a neutral party.
The EBRC should be convened by the President, who should also select and appoint its members from various agencies. To incorporate accountability and transparency, the committee’s report should explain the reasons, and give facts and figures to substantiate changes made in the redrawn boundaries.
Under the Constitution, the President is entrusted with the key to Singapore’s vast reserves. Why don’t we count on him to help uphold the democratic parliamentary process of our nation as well?
Such tweaks to the EBRC system would dispel the clamour against the Government for not providing a level playing field.
Article 4: A welcome wind of change
Source: the Straits Times Forum Apr 21, 2011
AS A baby boomer, I watch the unfolding political scene with joy and sanguinity. It has been long in coming, but I am sure many will agree that this inevitable political change is a friendly and healthy one.
Come May 7, the People’s Action Party (PAP) will face a formidable challenge from a more vociferous, robust and credible opposition. It is an encouraging sign and a significant turn the PAP cannot ignore.
It will be sad if the PAP views this emerging adversary negatively, as an unwelcome threat to its political dominance.
While the PAP is not expected to roll out the red carpet, it must engage the opposition and, more importantly, listen and use it as a foil to improve its political standing.
Singapore is larger than any political party. This is my beautiful home, and in my fading years, I want nothing more than respectable, humane and level-headed lawmakers at the helm to take this country to greater heights and afford my children and grandchildren a much better life than the one I have had.
The change in political climate could be the wellspring of that eventuality.
Lee Seck Kay
Article 5: PAP’s statement on Wijeysingha disappointing
Letter from Li Shi-En, Lisa
I refer to the TODAYonline article “PAP on Wijeysingha video: Candidates should be upfront about motives” (April 25). The PAP team, led by Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a statement on April 25 that a YouTube video shows SDP candidate Dr Vincent Wijeysingha at a forum discussing gay issues. Dr Balakrishnan added that the video “promotes gay causes” and that this “raises the question on whether Dr Wijeysingha will now pursue this cause in the political arena and what is the SDP’s position on the matter”.
Firstly, I am surprised that Dr Balakrishnan does not know SDP’s position on the matter because the party has always been upfront about its stand. Its vision is that “as a nation, we must not only show tolerance but also acceptance of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion”. In October 2007, the SDP also publicly supported the call to repeal 377A in accordance with its party principles. All this information is on their website, and Singaporeans who take their voting seriously already know this.
Secondly, I am not sure what Dr Balakrishnan means by “pursuing this cause in the political arena”. If he is referring to the possibility of Dr Wijeysingha (or any other politician) raising the issue of 377A in Parliament, that is only to be expected at some point in the future, not because of Dr Wijeysingha’s personal sexual orientation or alleged personal cause, but because of SDP’s clearly-stated vision for an inclusive Singapore.
I am keen to elect politicians who are able to articulate sound, thoughtful and diverse views for discussion on any number of issues in Parliament, regardless of whether I agree with them or not. As such, I am disappointed that Dr Balakrishnan paints such a negative picture of MPs “pursuing causes in the political arena”. Isn’t that what we are voting them in for? In any case, one Dr Wijeysingha in Parliament will hardly swing the votes and abolish 377A, if the majority of politicians and Singaporeans are against this move.
Thirdly, Dr Balakrishnan describes the video’s forum discussion as having touched on topics like “sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age”. This is a very misleading description. Viewers of the video will know that the forum speaker mentions the different age of consent for different countries, for example Sweden, where the age of consent for sex is 15 years (the speaker mistakenly says 14 years). However, not a single one of the forum participants proceed to discuss whether Singapore’s age of consent should be lowered or not, which suggests that this was never their aim.
Finally, Dr Balakrishnan says that the video “promotes gay causes”. What exactly is the “gay cause”? If gay men wanting to remove the clause that criminalises their private behaviour is the “gay cause” that Dr Balakrishnan refers to, this video could equally be described as one that supports basic human rights – the right for gay men not to be classified as criminals in Singapore. In the days of apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was jailed for fighting for the “black cause”; nowadays, we refer to this as equality.
During the April live political debate on Channel NewsAsia, Dr Wijeysingha showed Singaporeans that he is an articulate, capable speaker who is passionate for social justice. My opinion of him has not changed.
However, I am saddened by the appearance of such gutter politics from one of our Ministers and his PAP teammates, Mr Christopher De Souza, Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Ms Sim Ann, who signed off on this misleading statement. Instead of showing us why they are better leaders for Singapore or engaging the Opposition on policy differences, they have resorted to a smear campaign based on a Youtube video posted by an anonymous netizen.