Time enough for all to digest report: PM

Time enough for all to digest report: PM
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Shortly after announcing that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee had been formed two months ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong assured the House there would be time for everyone to digest the committee's report once it was published.

"To the maximum extent possible, we will make sure that there is enough time elapsed so that everybody can read the report, understand it and know where they stand before elections are called.

"But I don't think it is possible to say that we promise a certain minimum period, such as six months, because it depends very much on the exigencies of the situation and on when elections become necessary," Mr Lee said.

He was responding to Non- Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong, who had asked Mr Lee whether he was prepared to commit to a minimum time period - say, at least six months - from the publishing of the report to the calling of elections.

Mr Yee had noted that this process had taken as little as one day in the past.

Currently, there is no fixed date for the election to be called after the report is released to the public.

"A longer period will allow residents who have moved out of their constituencies to be able to adjust to the changes," Mr Yee said .

He also noted that prior to Singapore's independence, the committee - now made up of civil servants - had representatives from political parties, and asked if it could in future involve non- government representatives.

The Workers' Party member also asked whether the committee could better justify changes that it made to boundaries, including by publishing minutes of its meetings.

Mr Lee replied that the committee had for many years comprised civil servants who have "domain knowledge" which enabled them to make considered decisions on how to divide up the constituencies, taking into account population shifts and housing developments.

As for including political parties, Mr Lee did not think it was an entirely good idea, noting that in the United States, members usually "carve it up among themselves" in a political deal.

The PM also did not think it was helpful "to have every twist and turn in the minutes reported and published".

"The committee's report is the final word," he said.



This article was first published on July 14, 2015.
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