Redrawing boundaries

PHOTO: ST File photo

How it works:

In numbers

The people

The electoral boundaries review committee (EBRC) is appointed by the Prime Minister - typically a committee of five senior public servants, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. 2015 EBRC: Tan Kee Yong, Cheong Koon Hean, Tan Boon Khai, Wong Wee Kim, Lee Seng Lup.

Prep work is done by its secretariat at the Elections Department, a division of the Prime Minister's Office.

The government then decides whether or not to accept the EBRC's recommendations.

The process

Typically, the PM's terms of reference for the committee are:

To review electoral divisions and recommend changes to the number and boundaries of GRCs and SMCs.

To base recommendations on the number of voters, accounting for changes in population and housing development.

Guidelines on the number/size of GRCs, number of SMCs:

In 2011: that the average size of GRCs should not exceed five members; at least 12 SMCs.

In 2015: to reduce the average size of GRCs to under five members; at least 12 SMCs.

The +/- 30 per cent guide

To ensure that the number of voters each MP represents does not vary too much across Singapore, EBRC uses a +/- 30 per cent variation from the national average as its working guide.

According to the report, the estimated average ratio as at Aug 1, 2015 is one MP to about 28,300 electors, based on the 2,460,977 registered voters and 87 elected MPs today.

Timing and frequency of review

Law does not specify any time frame between the announcement of new boundaries and an election. In past elections:

From committee's formation to report being released: 2-7 months

From report's release to writ of election being issued: 1-54 days

Law does not specify how frequently boundaries should be reviewed.

So far, they have been reviewed before every general election.

Scope of review

Law specifies that there must be: 

At least 8 SMCs

GRCs must have at least 3, no more than 6, seats

GRCs must account for at least 1/4 of the total number of seats

3/5 of the total number of GRCs must have at least one Malay candidate

Terms of reference for review are set by Prime Minister:

Guideline of +/- 30 per cent of variance in electorate in each constituency

This article was first published on July 28, 2015.
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