Why it's time to end the GRC

Alan Soon
Foreign Minister George Yeo. (Yahoo! file photo)


This is the result of Singapore's controversial group representation constituency (GRC) system: the loss of a strong, highly visible foreign minister and of a veteran opposition leader, and the addition of a foot-stomping 27-year-old rookie.

In one fell swoop, three office holders of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) -- Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Hwee Hua and Senior Minister of State Zainul Abidin Rasheed are out. Was that the intent of Aljunied voters?

One angry Twitter user @energywen blamed the voters in the GRC, "You guys probably don't know that the stakes of your votes are not just your local MP, but the country's foreign minister as well. Thanks for screwing Singapore."

On the other side of the fence, veteran opposition leader Chiam See Tong lost his seat -- a voice that now needs to be filled in Parliament. Blogger @mrbrown wrote on Twitter, "Chiam See Tong, you fought the good fight. No one can say you didn't. I salute you."Again, was the removal of a respected political leader the real intent of voters?

Marine Parade's Tin Pei Ling becomes the youngest MP at 27. (Yahoo! photo)

In sad irony, one of the real winners in all this is Tin Pei Ling. At 27, she is the youngest in the PAP's lineup this election. Compare that with Chiam See Tong, who has been in service to the nation for the same 27 years. Talk about a freak election.

This is the stark reality of our political system -- an all-or-nothing bet that, at best, raises a new generation of leaders. At its worst, it compromises the very thing that we all seek as citizens: a responsive, credible and respectable government.

Politicians are not born -- they are groomed. But the use of the GRC ticket as a fast-track path to politics is irresponsible and dangerous for nationhood. What we've done on election day was to swap experience with youth. But at what price? Is that the intent of voters?

Experiments with the GRC system must end. It's time to abolish the GRC before we further undermine our democracy.

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