Parliament: Electoral boundaries committee not yet formed, should be allowed to focus on work as a matter of practice

The Elections Department building in Prinsep Link on Jan 30, 2019.
The Elections Department building in Prinsep Link on Jan 30, 2019.ST PHOTO: SAHIBA CHAWDHARY

SINGAPORE - The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee must be allowed to focus on its work "away from unnecessary media attention or public pressures", said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (Feb 28).

He was responding to Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who had asked why the Government does not announce the committee's formation as a matter of practice.

Mr Singh, who is the secretary-general of the Workers' Party, said: "It would be a waste of Parliament's time, and bordering on an abuse of process, if an MP had to file the same parliamentary question to the Prime Minister when rumours of an imminent election are in the air."

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee is convened months before a general election, but its formation may not always be made public immediately.

In the last general election held in September 2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced its formation in July in Parliament, saying in response to MPs' questions that it had been set up two months earlier.

The committee typically takes between two and seven months to release its report on changes in the electoral boundaries.

Mr Chan said: "As a matter of practice, we should allow the committee to focus on its work professionally, away from unnecessary media attention or public pressures.

 
 

"As with past elections, there will be sufficient time from when the committee's review report is made public to the time of the election, for candidates and political parties to make their preparations."

Mr Singh also asked whether the committee for the next general election has been formed, as well as for an update on roadshows that will be held to familiarise voters on changes to the election system, specifically on electronic registration for voters.

He also called on the committee to put out a report that explains in detail why specific precincts in each constituency are moved or swopped.

Mr Chan said the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee has not yet been formed and that the Government would continue to organise roadshows.

He also said the committee is made up of senior civil servants who are knowledgeable about demographic shifts and population statistics, and takes into consideration such factors as population growth when carrying out its work.

"The committee independently considers and determines how the constituencies are delineated, the size and configuration of the constituencies, as well as the total number of Members of Parliament to be returned," he said.