2 MPs to ask about panel on electoral boundaries

Two Members of Parliament will ask whether the committee that reviews electoral boundaries has been formed when Parliament sits on July 13. The answer will bring greater clarity on when the next general election will be called.

The formation of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee is the first sign that the general election is approaching.

The duo who sent in the question for the upcoming sitting are People's Action Party MP Arthur Fong (West Coast GRC) and Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong.

Yesterday, Mr Fong told The Straits Times it was "natural to ask the question", adding that he had also asked what guidelines the committee would follow.

Mr Yee wants to know as well who the committee members are, when its report is expected to be published, and how much time will elapse between the report's publication and the calling of an election.

The committee is appointed by the Prime Minister to examine and redraw constituency boundaries ahead of a general election.

While the next general election can be called any time until January 2017, many expect it to be called this year.

In the lead-up to the last two polls, in 2006 and 2011, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced the formation of the committee.

Both times, the committee took four months to do its work before issuing its report.

While there is no fixed date for the election to be called after the report is submitted, it has taken as short as one day and as long as one month and 26 days in the past.

Political parties typically wait for the report to be made public to firm up their slates.

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee tends to be made up of five civil servants and chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.

Its work is to split or shrink group representation constituencies, and absorb or create more single-member constituencies, based largely on population shifts.

As of April this year, there are about 2.46 million eligible voters, an increase of more than 100,000 from the last election in 2011.

Some constituencies, such as Sengkang West SMC, Punggol East SMC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, are already gearing up for changes as their population has grown significantly.

Mr Yee, who contested in Joo Chiat SMC in the 2011 election, said the Government should make it a point to announce the panel's formation, so Singaporeans and those in the political scene can have a better idea of when the polls will be held.

"I have to second guess when is the best time to ask the question, and this is my best guess," he said.

This article was first published on July 4, 2015.
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