Monday, September 7, 2015

GRC - the double edge sword

GRC was conceived by the PAP leadership to serve a 4 primary purposes.

One is to ensure minority representation based on the assumption that a minority candidate will always have a disadvantage in a 1 on 1 electoral contest against a Chinese race candidate as the Chinese race is a huge majority within the entirety of the Singapore population.

The 2nd reason is more "sinister" or "smart", depending on which side of the fence you are on: it is to limit the growth of the Opposition and curtailing their ability to win huge numbers of seats. Opposition was on the rise after JBJ and Chiam See Tong was voted in. And just these 2 voices along, caused tremendous distress to the PAP, whom had already been used to unquestioned rule over the island state. Thus, GRC system as well as the Elected Presidency, is mooted to protect PAP's rule and perhaps, Singapore as a country from rogue parties whom run a populist campaign, which the policies may win votes but spells an end to wise rule for the fragile country.

The 3rd reason is to usher in "weak" but "obedient" PAP members into the parliament. This is a form of cronyism perhaps, where certain candidates may have been given the promise of a MP seat after accomplishing certain given missions - for example contesting in an Opposition stronghold. Typically, such candidates takes up half or more of the candidacy in each GRC and destined to be backbenchers where their attendance in parliament is irrelevant.

The last reason is to allow more freedom to the Cabinet Ministers and appointment holders to concentrate on their "more important roles", leaving municipal issues to the other MPs of the GRC (which probably also do not do much, as most of the work are done by the CCCs)

This GRC concept seemed like a very good idea and looks to serve it purpose (and it did for 2 decades). But the 2011 General Election defeat in Aljunied GRC to the Worker's Party exposed a serious flaw in the system - its that for every GRC PAP lost, they lose 1 or sometimes even 2 ministers (or minister calibre candidates).

George Yeo was "set free" and went on to enjoy a more relaxing and private life since, and Singapore lost a good minister in the process. GRC suddenly appears to become a double edge sword as opposed to be the impregnable shield that it was mooted out to be. And in this 2015 General Elections, PM Lee scaled down the average size of the GRC in response and the PAP GRCs all feels a tad bit that more fragile.

In a different perspective, PAP is actually gambling on the future of Singapore with such a policy. Ministers and potential future leaders heads each GRC, when one GRC falls, there goes the valuable talent in that minister and the future leader that is in line for leadership renewal. It is evident when PAP chickened out by fielding its weakest ever GRC line up in history to contest Aljunied GRC. This brinkmanship-type of electoral rule cuts both ways, causing the situation where, regardless which side you vote: either for a more plural parliamentary representation or for a good minister whom could have served the country well in the cabinet - you lose.

This lose-lose type of election COULD NOT have happened, if it had been just the traditional 1 candidate 1 ward type of election. In which universe would George Yeo have lost his seat, if he had contesting in a SMC? Especially one which every seat is a SMC.

To blood new leaders, one must go through the baptism of fire of contesting on their own, for their own seat and win their right to be in parliament - THEN we talk about selecting them as future leaders for the country. The GRC system must be abolished, for the long term greater good of the country, and for PAP's right and mandate to continue their rule in Singapore.

When PAP start to lose not just 1, but 3, 4 or even 5 or 6 minister-calibre people to the GRC's reverse blade - it would have become too late for the PAP. You lose 3 or 4 minister calibre people, the party calibre drops 20% in term of human capital. And if PAP do not revoke this GRC system, and let it run its course, one day when PAP loses 3 to 4 GRCs, they would not have enough quality candidates to fill the ranks in the cabinet, and it will spell the beginning of the end for the ruling party.

When that happen PAP, will start concentrating all their "elites" into A teams, to protect them from being voted out, and leaving other weaker ward to be contested by backbenchers (which left them vulnerable to Oppositions A teams) - and irreversible slide for the PAP into "just another party" status - since it start using the Opposition election strategies...

I do not believe this election will see PAP losing 3 to 4 GRCs (GE2015), thus, its not too late for the PAP to reverse this GRC system back into its rightful system of 1 candidate 1 ward. For Singapore, and for our future; for their own good and their own mandate - abolish the GRC system.

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