The PAP invested heavily in GRCs, believing that a GRC is their fixed deposit. But they failed to anticipate that Low and Chiam would forsake their strongholds of Hougang and Potong Pasir respectively to contest in GRCs. Now, with Low leading his A Team to contest Aljunied, there is a huge possibility the GRC might be the first to fall into opposition hands. And if it happens, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo will lose his seat as well as his portfolio, which will really be a loss for Singapore, as unlike some ministers, he has performed well, is intellectual yet humble and likable.
Look at what SM Goh said:
Speaking at a rally in Marine Parade GRC, Mr Goh in particular spoke of the potential impact should Mr Yeo lose his seat.
Mr Goh said Mr Yeo has been handling delicate negotiations with Malaysia and Indonesia on border issues.
Mr Goh also said Singapore has what he described as a “beautiful arrangement” – with an Indian as President, a Chinese as Prime Minister and a Malay, Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, as potential Speaker of Parliament.
Mr Goh said: “On the basis of merit we ended up with this, a politically balanced, beautiful picture.
“You knock out George Yeo and Zainul Abidin. Well, you’ll have to look for another Speaker on the basis of merit. Well, that person may not be Zainul Abidin once he’s out, or another Malay MP.
In the first place, it is the PAP which created the GRC system, expanded it from a 3-member-ward to a 5- or 6-member-ward, drastically reduced the number of single-member-wards, and appointed cabinet ministers to helm each GRC. For the past two decades they have benefited from the GRC system in several ways: 1) absorbing opposition-leaning wards into GRCs, 2) creating physical barriers for opposition parties to contest GRCs, 3) and parachuting first-time candidates so that they will win by walkovers or with the help of their experienced teammates.
All these have diluted the voices of opposition supporters, as well as taking away a fundamental right of citizens – that of voting. Voting is not banned, but the co-relation between the size and number of GRCs and the number of walkover constituencies results in a trend that many S’poreans are unable to vote in every elections. Maybe these S’poreans would have voted the PAP anyway, but without elections, there IS no way to know how S’poreans would vote. Maybe the opposition parties should take the blame for being unable to muster the resources, but at the same time, an unfair system is hurting them even more.
If Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo were to contest in a single-member ward, he could have won easily. So could Zainul Abidin. But the PAP chose to create the GRC system, chose to put two heavyweights in one GRC, and did not anticipate that a veteran opposition MP would risk his political career to make an all-out bid for a GRC. To Low Thia Kiang’s shrewdness, he has made the contest in Aljunied a referendum on the type of political system which S’poreans desire – a monolithic PAP in Parliament, or a dominant PAP with about 33 percent Opposition MPs? The feeble response of the PAP team is to turn the contest into one involving municipal issues, a sign that they understand Low’s message is somewhat reasonable, and will attract some swing voters.
Surprisingly, the PAP has not trotted out the guaranteed number of 9 NCMPs seats. One reason is that Low is popular, and there are many who want to see him represent them as an elected MP, rather than a NCMP (who represents no one and is second-class). But I think S’poreans will not vote opposition just because of the guaranteed NCMPs; to them, it is very simple, a NCMP is still a loser, not a winner, in this first-past-the-post electoral system.
Personally, I’d like George Yeo to remain as Foreign Affairs minister, but like Aljunied residents, I think the Workers’ Party’s idea of a First World Parliament is beneficial for S’pore’s future. Who is at fault for creating this ’emotional dilemma’?