At his speech at the opening of the 13th Parliament today, Singapore President Tony Tan claimed that Singapore’s undemocratic election schemes like the Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Nominated MP (NMP) and Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) are “innovations” of Singapore.
The GRC system was designed to consolidate the ruling party PAP support, where an “anchor Minister” was tasked to lead the team. This has led to new faces and PAP candidates whom themselves are un-electable and incapable of winning a single contest by himself to enter the Parliament by piggy-backing on a Minister. Unpopular MPs like Tin Pei Ling, Chan Chun Seng, Chia Shi Lu, new citizen Janil Puthucheary, Lee Bee Wah have all been successfully carried into government by their respective popular leader-Minister in their team like ex-PM Lee Kuan Yew, ex-PM Goh Chok Tong and DPM Teo Chee Hean. The PAP government has of course refuted such allegation and claimed that the GRC system “represents interests of Malays and Indians”.
Worse off, the ruling party PAP invented the Nominated MP scheme where the ruling party themselves get to choose who can become a MP for 2 years in Parliament, but without voting rights. NMPs nominated tend to be pro-establishment and acted as extra PAP MPs to lend support to existing PAP MPs. Ex-NMP Calvin Cheng and ex-NMP Chia Yong Yong often spoke out against the Opposition and have won numerous praises from the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Other NMPs skirt dressing questions for the Parliament, wasting time and resources raising matters of non-importance. Ex-NMP Joscelin Yeo, a former national swimmer, made only 7 questions and speeches in her 2 year NMP term.
The NCMP scheme was introduced to “guarantee a minimum number of Opposition”, or so the ruling party PAP claimed. Election candidates who were actually voted out but gained the highest percentage of vote in his constituency ended up getting to be a MP, hence defeating the purpose of having an electoral contest. Workers’ Party Lee Lilian had openly declared that she is against the NCMP scheme, and despite being the best-performing loser in GE2015, she refused to pick up the NCMP position (see link below article).
Singapore also adopted a “First-past-the-post” scheme, where a winner can be announced despite not securing the majority of the votes. This resulted in severe distortions between the number of votes cast and the actual representation in Parliament. For example, the PAP government secured only 60.1% of the votes in 2011, yet they occupied 90% of the parliament seats. President Tony Tan himself was the “best loser” winning only 35.2% of the total votes. This practice was slammed by renowned UK barrister Sir William Wade as undemocratic: “If it is accepted that a democratic Parliament ought to represent so far as possible the preferences of the voters, this system is probably the worst that could be devised.”
The island state is also the only country with both the President and Prime Minister. Unlike other Presidents, the Singapore President is a political puppet and act as a rubber stamp for the government to access the national reserves. In 2015, the Singapore government quietly spent S$45.6 billion from the national reserves without informing the public (see link below article).
Singapore is the only country in the world that has the GRC, NMP and NCMP system, and these “innovative” schemes have been often criticised as undemocratic. The deceased dictator Lee Kuan Yew devised these systems to keep his party forever in power, along with the use of the police powers in the form of Internal Security Act and judiciary in the form of defamation lawsuits to squash criticisms and opposition.