SINGAPORE HANSARD DEB 4 MARCH 2010, VOL 86, COLS 3031-3032
Electoral Boundaries Review Committee Report
Ms Sylvia Lim (Non-Constituency Member):
Sir, in countries like the UK, electoral boundaryrevisions are carried by an independent Boundary Commission under the charge of a High CourtJudge. Proposed boundary changes are also open to public scrutiny and objection. In Singapore,however, the boundary revisions are done by a Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary,reporting to the Prime Minister.Sir, despite my belief that the PMO should not be in charge of boundary review, the focus of mycut is how the current process may be improved for transparency and accountability. I would like totouch on two points. First, the timing of the release of the report. Second, the contents of thereport.Sir, as far as release of the report is concerned, it is noted that in GE 2001, the revised boundarieswere released about one week before Nomination Day. In the last GE, they were announced aboutseven-and-a-half weeks before. I would call for the Boundaries Review Report to be released atleast six months to one year before Nomination Day. This is especially important because of theunique situation in Singapore where there are GRCs and SMCs. GRCs can be chopped and changedand SMCs can be created and dissolved with the stroke of a pen.For the coming election, we are expecting some significant revisions due to expected increase inthe number of SMCs from nine to 12 as some GRCs are being reduced in size. Having good noticewould give voters confidence in the boundary redrawing process. It will also give a reasonable timefor political parties to do more focused groundwork and consider their candidate line up.My second point relates to the contents of the report. In the last Electoral Boundaries ReviewCommittee (EBRC) Report, the terms of reference were very generally stated as reviewing andrecommending the new constituencies and boundaries taking into account significant changes in thedistribution of voters due to population shifts and housing development. As a basis, the 2006 reportcalculates the MP to voter ratio using the total number of voters nationally divided by the number ofparliamentary seats. This led to a conclusion of one Member of Parliament (MP) for every 26,000voters. The report then states that a 30% variation is allowed, leading to a possible voter range ofbetween 18,000 and 34,000 per MP.Sir, reading the report raises more questions than it answers, for example, how was it derivedthat the 30% variation was permissible? Why were Ayer Rajah SMC and Bukit Timah SMC dissolvedwhen they still had the number of voters in the acceptable range for SMCs? How was it decided thatthe new replacement SMCs would be Yio Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang, and so on?Sir, such changes could not have been at the whims and fancies of the EBRC. There must havebeen a certain methodology employed or other factors considered. As this is a matter of publicinterest, could the next EBRC Report go further into the reasons for dissolving or creating SMCs orchanging the boundaries of GRCs.