Change the current Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system that has between three to six political leaders to a two-member GRC team.
The idea was proposed by Walid Jumblatt, who teaches at the National University of Singapore’s political science department, during the nearly four-hour long public forum “The future of Singapore: Do Malays have a part?” at Bras Basah on Saturday afternoon.
According to Jumblatt, this would “mitigate” the problem of some Malays who question the legitimacy of some Malay political leaders.
The GRC scheme, which was introduced in 1988, requires each slate to include at least one candidate from a minority community. Voters in GRCs would vote for a team, rather than an individual leader of their choice.
Jumblatt said that there is disrespect among some Malays for their leaders because they did not personally chose that minority leader to lead them.
He argued that by providing a bigger role a minority candidate would play in determining the success of winning the elections with a two member team, political parties would also be forced to screen their candidates more carefully and field only the best candidate.
Jumblatt was one of the four speakers that spoke at the forum which was organised by opposition party Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). Over 100 turned up for the event.
The other speakers included Maarof Salleh, also former senior visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS); Abdul Halim bin Kader, a former senior civil servant at the Immigration Department of Singapore, and a People’s Action Party campaign manager for five past elections; and SDP’s chairman Jufrie Mahmood.
The purpose of the forum, as SDP member and forum moderator Vincent Wijeysingha said at the beginning of the session, was “for us as Singaporeans – even for non-Malays – to find out about issues facing the Malays”.
Maarof Salleh, former president of Islamic religious council Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), said that the community can do everything for itself but that it needs non-Malays’ understanding “to give us opportunities”.
Moving forward, Jumblatt also called for an honest reassessment from both the Malay community and the state about what resources could be given to the community.