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Replace GRC system with ethnic-balancing alternative: NGO

SINGAPORE — Non-government organisation (NGO) MARUAH yesterday proposed an alternative system to ensure adequate minority representation in politics, saying that the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system has created various impediments to electoral and representational fairness.

SINGAPORE — Non-government organisation (NGO) MARUAH yesterday proposed an alternative system to ensure adequate minority representation in politics, saying that the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system has created various impediments to electoral and representational fairness.

Under the NGO’s proposal, contesting parties would be required to ensure fair ethnic minority representation in their total slate of candidates. Also, if the proportion of elected candidates from each minority group falls 2 percentage points below that of each minority group in the total population, ethnic minority candidates who are the best losers would be added as Members of Parliament with full voting rights, though they would not represent specific constituencies.

In its second position paper on improving the electoral system released this year, MARUAH said the suggestion — which it dubbed the Ethnic Balancing Contingency System (EBCS) — would provide fair ethnic representation fail-safe without the disadvantages of GRCs, which “have tended to undermine the legitimacy of Singapore’s electoral system, particularly after GE 2011”.

It argued that the GRC system, which was introduced in 1988, had created “an unlevel playing field” for smaller opposition parties, provided a device to prevent by-elections from being held, allowed for potentially less electable candidates to free-ride into Parliament and entrenched the expectation of ethnic voting.

The paper, which was presented at a media conference called by the NGO, was put together by seven MARUAH members and volunteers, with discussions with some academics during its formulation. The process took five months.

MARUAH said it is working on two other position papers on the electoral system. Its first, which was released in February this year, raised ideas to improve confidence in the secrecy of the ballot.

MARUAH said it will submit all its position papers to the Elections Department as they are released.

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