Analysts: Why keep six-member GRCs?

Analysts: Why keep six-member GRCs?
PHOTO: The New Paper

The retention of two jumbo group representation constituencies is likely to attract bewilderment if not criticism, four political observers said yesterday in comments on the newly redrawn electoral map.

Political scientist Derek da Cunha said: "The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report will not satisfy everyone. But, in my opinion, one justifiable gripe that many people will likely have is the retention of six-member GRCs."

Their presence on the electoral landscape is all the more stark in the light of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's direction to the committee to shrink GRCs to an average of below five MPs, the analysts said.

As Dr da Cunha put it: "Six-member GRCs stand out like a sore thumb and their continued existence will likely perplex many people."

But he and the others acknowledged that the review committee was within the terms of reference set out by PM Lee, as the average size of each GRC is now 4.75 MPs.

As a result of the committee's work, the number of five-man GRCs has dropped to eight from 11, and the number of four-man GRCs has risen to six from two.

There are now 13 single-member constituencies (SMCs), one more than in the 2011 General Election.

"I was expecting to see some three-member GRCs, but am glad to see an increase in four-member GRCs," said sociologist Tan Ern Ser.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said he was puzzled by the committee's recommendation to retain Ang Mo Kio GRC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC as six-man constituencies.

"It just flies against the whole tenor and rationale for smaller GRCs, which PM Lee first spoke about in 2009 and repeated last week in Parliament," he said.



National University of Singapore political scientist Hussin Mutalib agreed, saying: "The retention of the mega GRCs anchored by PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Pasir Ris-Punggol did not go unnoticed."

The political observers also suggested the committee could have reduced both GRCs to five-member ones, by hiving off a ward in each to form two new SMCs.

This article was first published on July 25, 2015.
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