While the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) operates independently, it should be allowed to focus on its work away from unnecessary media attention or public pressures, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (28 February).
Speaking during the ongoing Committee of Supply (COS) debate in Parliament, Chan added, “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.”
Chan, who is also Trade and Industry Minister, was responding to Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh’s call for greater transparency in the how the EBRC operates. Appointed by the Prime Minister in the lead-up to a general election, the EBRC reviews the number, names and boundaries of electoral divisions.
Singh also asked, to laughter from the House, if the EBRC for the next election has been formed yet. “The answer is no,” said Chan.
Chan explained that the EBRC is made up of “senior civil servants who are knowledgable in demographic shifts and population statistics”, and guided by the terms of references made up by the PM. “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.”
The committee takes into account technical factors such as population growth and shifts in other relevant parameters. Its review report is presented as a White Paper to Parliament and released to the public once it is accepted by the government.
Pritam’s question comes two days after he said in Parliament during the Budget 2019 debate there was a “ground feel” that the Merdeka Generation Package to help senior citizens with their medical bills is election-linked.
“There are also quarters who conclude that it is pungently timed with the election cycle, giving off the odour of an unfair advantage aimed at the electoral prospects of the People’s Action Party,” Singh said.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat rebutted Singh on Tuesday by saying it was “misleading” to tie the Merdeka Generation Package to election cycles.
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