Thursday, December 15, 2005

Preparation for General Election ~Part 1~

Though I have a strong feeling that I would not get to vote AT ALL, I think I should still do my homework for the upcoming elections. Btw, anyone knows when will it be held? Anytime soon?

Where else is the best place to know more about such matters than the Elections Department Singapore website. So I happily went on to the website to see what information they provide. (they do provide a lot of very useful information.)

First thing I'm interested in is what GRC stands for. Yes, I've been using the word pretty often but I don't know what does it stand for exactly. So now I know, GRC stands for Group Representation Constituencies and SMC stands for Single Member Constituencies.

According to the website, the GRC system was established in 1988 to ensure that the minority racial communities in Singapore will always be represented in Parliament. To ensure this, the Parliamentary Elections Act requires that at least one-quarter of the total number of MPs must be representatives of GRCs. There is currently 14 GRCs with 75 MPs.

So how does the GRC system ensure that the minority racial communities are being represented in Parliment? During elections, the residents in the GRC would vote for a group of individuals to be their MPs. The group may be made up of 3, 4, 5 or 6 individuals and the President declares the group number for each GRC by law. Inside each group, at least one must be of a minority race.

How is the Singapore pie divided up then?

Hong Kah seems huge!! But Sembawang GRC (the one I'm in) is the largest, with 183,883 electors voting for 6 MPs :)

The GRC system came out to make sure the minority are represented, but one can't help but wonder if gerrymandering is taking place. That's a new word I've learnt and there's a very interesting history to it. Click on the word to check it out :)

The next issue I'm concerned about is the numbering of the ballot paper and thus the ability for whoever's in power to trace who voted for which party.

Once again, the website gave the rationale for the numbering of the ballot paper which I found to be very reasonable.

The rationale is simple, it is in place to prevent against frudalent votes. That's reasonable, and only in the case where someone can prove that there's fraudulently casted votes and the result of the election may be affected as a result, can the ballot paper be taken out for investigation. And so far, the court had not issued any such order since 1948. So I guess I feel pretty safe about the secrecy of my vote.

In regards to secrecy, I'm not really worried, if they know then they know lor, it does not really matter to me. I'm not in civil service anyway and I've given up hopes of dabbling in politics a long time ago. Besides, it might be good that the ruling party finds out who had not voted for them. If they could take it as a signal to sit down and listen to why we voted for the other party, I think it will be great news.

Voting is a very serious issue, when someone makes a decision to vote for a party, they must have a valid reason to do so. So having the ruling party know about the people who did not vote for them, they could start finding out exactly where the other party did right and won the vote of these people. Feedback is very important and they should take this as a positive feedback to learn more about the people they serve.

That's all for part 1, I'm kinda boring myself here :Þ

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Anonymous said...

If they want to know, they will know. Ya, they say will have secrecy but who will enforce if the ruling party want to check? Dun forget the ppl responsible for the boxes and all tt are also appt by the ruling party.

Anonymous said...

the grc system effectively prevents the opposition from contesting the elections. with the deposit per person per team going at 30k... a 5 member grc will have to put up a bond of 150k just to contest.

if they don't get 1/8 the votes, they'll have that entire bond forfeited. how does the opposition contest, when there's a law that states that they cannot get more than 5k in donations a year?

if you didn't realise, in the last general elections, gct said that wards that voted for the opposition would be placed lowest in priority on the upgrading list. nevermind that. at the 11th hour he said that it would selectively affect individual clusters of blocks of 5000 people. if you didn't realise it already, they can easily trace right down to the percentage that a block votes pap/opposition.

indeed, nowonder the us state department has condemned the usage of such 'threats' to coerce voters. and indeed, freedom house reports that singaporeans cannot democratically change their government. its very sad that you get caught up in the rhetoric of this nonsense all.

oh ya, if you didn't realise, the elections department works right out of the prime minister's office. watch as they start redrawing the electoral districts again when the next elections come. wonderful gerrymandering. oh ya, better check if your name is on the voting registrar. if not, you cannot vote.

go do research on the country you call singapore. you'll find that it really isn't what it proclaims to be.

Anonymous said...

y shld u be allowed to vote? vote more opp in? 4 wad? make noise? no contribution? 4get it

Jayce said...

First of all, it's not a matter if I should be allowed to vote, I'm a Singaporean citizen, voting is my right.

And did I say I was going to vote in the opposition for sure? I am supportive of WP right now, but if they don't convince me that they can do well in their rallies, there's a high chance I will not vote for them. I can judge, I'm not blinded by my dislike of the ruling party.

And we have not seen what the new batch of opposition can do, they might fare well, or they might just make noise as you mention, we will never know till they get a try. It's not fair to judge them without seeing them in action.

Anonymous said...

The election deposit per candidate irrespective of whether they stand alone in a SMC or as a member in a team is $13,500. For a 6 member ward like Sembawang or Tanjong Pagar that means a combined $18,000. It begets the question is an election deposit the best way to ensure only serious candidates take part? There were a couple who stood the last time around in 2001 who while able to fork out that amount certainly did not come across as "serious" or "non-frivolous". Folks like Tan Lead Shake and Tan Soo Phuan for instance. Instead of an election deposit, perhaps a mandatory collection of 1/6 of signatures (supporting one's candidacy) of an electoral division's total electorate is a better guarantee.

Such a requirement will put off or scare off those publicity seekers affording the voters candidates who are ready to go the extra mile. I mean if you are genuinely interested in serving a ward's constituents what is going to markets, town centers, interchanges, door-to-door, etc or set up booths to do so to collect a mere 1/6 signatures from the ward's total electorate?

Anonymous said...

Sorry that should have been "a combined $81,000" not $18,000. Typo.