Through the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) chaired by his secretary, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will reduce the size of Group Representation Constituencies to below 5 and increase the number of Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) to at least 12.
Currently there are 14 GRCs with five or six MPs, and 9 SMCs. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will also consider the population shifts and housing developments when crafting the electoral boundaries of the constituencies. When questioned by Opposition MP Yee Jenn Jong who criticized the Prime Minister for usually calls for an election on the very next day he announce the electoral boundary report, PM Lee Hsien Loong declined to give a commitment for a minimum period like six months but simply said he will allow “enough time”:
“The committee will publish its report to the maximum extent possible. We will make sure there’s enough time elapsed so that everybody can read the report, understand it and know where they stand before elections are called. But I don’t think it is possible to say that we promise a certain minimum period such as six months, because it depends very much on the exigencies on the situation and on when elections become necessary.”
Although the Chairman of the EBRC committee reports to the Prime Minister, PM Lee Hsien Loong tries to disassociate himself from the demarcation of electoral boundaries saying only “civil servants who have domain knowledge” and expertise draft up the demarcation:
“It has for many years comprised civil servants who have domain knowledge which enables them to make considered decisions on how to divide up the constituencies – taking into account, as I have said, population shifts, housing developments, and also how to do this in a practical sort of way, so that we do not have complete upheaval each time there is redemarcation.
If there is a need for outside expertise I think that can be considered. We have no hesitation to look for outside expertise.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also took the moral high horse and pretended to be neutral claiming that bringing in political parties into the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee will make it a “political deal”, when the ruling party has all along been guilty for gerrymandering and drawing up electoral boundaries to the PAP’s advangage:
“As for bringing in political parties I’m not sure that’s entirely a good idea. The Americans do it with political parties, and the way it is done is usually that the sitting members (of the House of Representatives) decide on a demarcation. And usually what happens is that they carve it up among themselves. It’s a political deal and I think that’s not a good arrangement and it’s best we leave this to the civil servants to work at.”
As for when will the election be announced, the following steps are required:
1) Electoral Boundaries Review Committee forms
2) EBRC announce report of electoral boundaries
3) Parliament dissolved by the President after advice from PM Lee Hsien Loong
4) President issues Writ of Election after advice from PM Lee Hsien Loong
5) Nomination Day – 5 days to one month after Writ of Election
6) Polling Day – 10 to 56 days (in 2006 and 2011, PM Lee Hsien Loong made it 10 days)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong later said that there will be no transparency on the EBRC’s decision making process and the minutes of their meetings will not be published. He then added the EBRC has the final word:
“I don’t believe it is helpful to have every twist and and turn in minutes reported and published.
I think the committee’s report is the final word.”
The Electoral Department, a government statutory board, also reports to the Prime Minister’s Office and this arrangement has never been challenged by Singaporeans and the Opposition out of fear from defamation lawsuits.