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Next General Election will see smaller GRCs, more single-member wards

SINGAPORE — The Group Representation Constituency (GRC) scheme is a good one and should remain, but to “strike the right balance”, their sizes will be reduced further for the next General Election (GE), while more Single-Member Constituencies (SMCs) will be created, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — The Group Representation Constituency (GRC) scheme is a good one and should remain, but to “strike the right balance”, their sizes will be reduced further for the next General Election (GE), while more Single-Member Constituencies (SMCs) will be created, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.  

Mr Lee said GRCs have kept Singapore politics multiracial and have benefited residents by having an anchor Cabinet Minister take care of their affairs, as well as better economies of scale in running GRC-wide programmes and activities. 

But smaller GRCs create a closer connection between Members of Parliament (MPs) and their residents, while SMCs, apart from being easier to contest, give an MP direct responsibility for everything that happens in his or her constituency, said Mr Lee. 

The right balance will have to be struck between GRCs big and small, and between GRCs and SMCs, said Mr Lee, who was speaking during the debate on the President’s Address in Parliament today.


Before the September polls last year, Mr Lee, on appointing the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, had instructed the committee to reduce the average size of GRCs to below five members, and have a minimum of 12 SMCs. There are currently 16 GRCs, among them six four-man ones, eight five-man ones, and two six-man ones. 

Today (Jan 27), Mr Lee noted how the GRC scheme, introduced in 1988 to ensure a minimum number of minority-race MPs in Parliament, has pushed parties to be more multi-racial in their approach. 

Opposition parties know they need to win support from minorities and that they have to field credible Malay and Indian candidates in their teams, and if they play racial politics during elections, votes that they win from one group will be at the expense of votes lost from another group, he said.
This has not stopped candidates from playing the racial card. 

In the 1997 GE, Mr Tang Liang Honyesg made provocative speeches to appeal to the Chinese majority vote when he contested in Cheng San GRC. 

In the GE last year, some opposition candidates tried to exploit Islam to collect Malay votes, by “ostentatiously” performing prayers in public before election rallies, said Mr Lee. In both cases, the tactic failed. 

Another “bonus” of the GRC is that it works with the town council system, such that a constituency’s MPs run the town council, manage the service and conservancy charges collections, oversee and account for government subsidies, maintain the estates, administer rules and fines, and look after sinking funds. 

This makes sure that any party that aspires to form the Government of Singapore first has a chance to demonstrate in a town council what it can and cannot do, said Mr Lee.

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