GRCs were introduced ostensibly for the so-called important reason to ensure Parliament will have a minimum number of minority MPs. According to PM Lee Hsien Loong: We are a multiracial, multi-religious society. If we don't have GRCs, our multiracial, multi-religious Parliament will be under threat. All very gallant and idealistic sentiments.
Let us examine whether this specious argument is sustainable. Because of the unwieldy nature of the GRCs, they did not seem initially to attract the interests of the opposition parties. This was probably due to a lack of suitable personnel and financial resources. So the PAP were able to maintain a dominance of the GRCs by reason of their superior personnel and financial resources. In order to give a semblance of accommodating minority representation, a very small percentage of Malay, Indian and other ethnic candidates were included in the GRCs. This is only an eyewash as this minority representation is used as a cover for the backdoor entrance of untested candidates into Parliament on the coattails of anchor ministers. Because of their dominance, the PAP candidates in a GRC are usually returned by a walkover in an election.
There is only one minority candidate in a GRC consisting of four to six persons and the rest are untested backdoor entrants. A recent glaring example is the beleaguered Tin Pei Ling who to all intents and purposes will enter Parliament in this manner. There has been public pressure for her to stand in an SMC in the upcoming general election but this seems to have fallen on deaf ears. So when one considers the percentage of minority representation with the percentage of untested backdoor entrants in the GRCs, it does give a lie to the PM's assertion that GRCs are set up to preserve minority representation in Parliament which is important in our multiracial, multi-religious society. The most logical choice of action is for the PAP to abolish the GRCs in order to have a level playing field for the opposition parties.
Going on another subject, it seems quizzical for PM Lee Hsien Loong to remind all party members, whether old ones or new ones, that they are here to serve Singaporeans. Never forget we're servants of the people, not their masters. Never lord it over the people we're looking after and serving. Well said and timely only if it is not ironical. Can one imagine the arrogant and bumptious MM Lee, the father of PM Lee, lowering himself as a servant of the people? It hardly befits his narcissistic character.
Another minister who hardly fits the bill of a servant of the people is Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. As Enviroment Minister his high-handed handling of the Orchard Road floods can by no stretch of imagination qualify him as such. Last but not least is our smart Aleck MCYS Minister Vivian Balakrishnan whose callous treatment of volunteers who were afflicted by food poisoning during the Youth Olympic Games can hardly be called a servant of the people.
It is good that PM Lee has come out with this call for party members to be humble towards the people but the timing is questionable. Be that as it may, the fact that he has made the call is commendable.