Ensuring more fairness, transparency in electoral system

Now that the general election is behind us, I am hopeful that the Government will build on its strong mandate to improve the lives of Singaporeans. A good starting point would be to review the electoral system and the duties of MPs.

The original intention of the group representation constituency (GRC) system was to ensure representation of ethnic minorities in Parliament. But it has been criticised for allowing less stellar candidates to enter Parliament on the coat-tails of stronger ones, instead of standing on their own steam.

It can also be a double-edged sword, as we saw in 2011, when the PAP lost a GRC, and along with it, a few Cabinet ministers.

There is another way of ensuring minority representation in Parliament. Instead of the GRC system, the Government could require all political parties to field a minimum number of candidates from the minority ethnic groups.

This minimum requirement should increase proportionately with the total number of candidates fielded by each party. Electoral boundaries should also be fixed, regardless of demographic changes, since an MP must be able to help citizens of all races and ages.

Finally, MPs should not hold any directorships, so that they may focus their time and energy on helping their residents.

For MPs who are passionate about offering their expertise to companies, they should not receive any remuneration for such directorships, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Should MPs be allowed to continue holding directorships, I suggest that this information, as well as their remuneration in broad fee bands, be made public.

Darren Ong Soon Siong