No portfolio Minister Chan Chun Sing appears be throwing smoke in Parliament. Again.
In response to WP Pritam’s question on the the need for a by-election should MP Halimah Yacob, a minority candidate in the Marsiling-Yew Tee (MYT) GRC, step down to contest in PE 2017, Chan’s answer was firmly ‘no’. TOC
Chan explained that the intent of the GRC system – according to former PM Goh Chok Tong – was to “ensure enough minority members in the House”. Since there were enough minority MPs in Parliament, one less doesn’t matter.
But ultimately, the GRC system was set up to serve the people and not merely to ensure minority members in Parliament. Since Halimah’s departure from her MP role will adversely affect tens of thousands of MYT GRC constituents, is this of no concern to Chan?
Chan has conveniently forgotten that a 4-member GRC team was voted in to serve MYT GRC constituents, not 3.
With a 4-member team, each MP serves an average of about 26,900 voters. With Halimah out of action, the the remaining 3 MPs will each have to serve about 35,800 voters, an increase of almost 9000!
With a 4-member team, should any contingency (recall MP Charles Chong hospitalisation and medical leave) arise, the additional workload could be shared temporarily among 3 MPs.
But if MYT GRC has only 3 MPs, what would happen if, say, Lawrence Wong happens to require 8 weeks of urgent medical leave? Is it humanly possible for each MP to serve 53,800 constituents?
Furthermore, the next general election is still 3 years away. Without Halimah’s service or a by-election, Lawrence Wong, Ong Teng Koon and Alex Yam will need to clock lots of OT for the next 3 years! Will Minister Lawrence Wong have the time to discharge his additional responsibilities? How will part-time MPs Ong Teng Koon and Alex Yam be able to serve additional thousands of constituents while still employed full-time? Are their family members not important to them? Do they have 25 hours a day?
Singaporeans elect an MP in a SMC or a number of MPs in a GRC to be their representative in Parliament. It is the PAP which came up with this racist PE requiring potential candidates like Halimah to resign from her MP post. (Or Yaacob Ibrahim to resign from his post as minister.)
PAP should provide a solution instead of expecting constituents to accept an unfavorable outcome resulting from their arbitrary tweaking of legislations.
Chan should not frame the issue as one solely about having sufficient minority MPs in Parliament. The more important issue is whether constituents’ interests have been shortchanged.
The government should reconsider its position on not having a by election under the above scenario. Unless it’s OK to shortchange “Madam President’s” constituents.