Skip to content

Votker 2: Readers want electoral system changes

Now the topic of Reforming the GRC system is active again Alex Au’s brilliant poll and analysis is well worth re -reading.

Yawning Bread

A large majority of Yawning Bread readers would like to see Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) abolished, and comprehensive overseas voting catered for. There was also considerable support for lowering the voting age to 18 and introducing proportional representation.

This came out of the second Votker poll which opened for responses on 14 September morning and closed at midnight 19/20 September.

View original post 828 more words


  1. I don’t recall ever having seen the Reform Party advocating a PR form of government or the three-tier structure – Upper House, Lower House and elected Town Council – that I have proposed.

    A PR system would benefit the smaller parties in Singapore immediately because it would guarantee seats in parliament to all who get above a certain minimum threshold, say 3% of the votes nationally. For example, if there are 100 seats in parliament and a party was to get 10% of the national vote, it would immediately get 10 seats.

    Town Council Mayors would automatically have seats in Parliament so they can bring up local issues that need debating in parliament, but not other councillors.

    Of course, Catch 22 is that it will not be possible to reform the system until such time as a non-PAP government is in power, so for the time being everyone will need to play by the existing rules. The good news is, of course, that the GRC can cut both ways, so when one falls the PAP loses a big chunk of their faithful.

    With reference to the proposal for a single electoral constituency in Singapore, no one is advocating the wholesale adoption of an alien system. Being a late adopter, Singapore has the advantage of being able to pick and choose from among the best in the field, including from electoral systems in Israel, Europe and New Zealand. There is no question that religion or religious parties or bodies have no place in a modern state and these should have no role to play in matters of public policy. The recent demonstrations we have seen of white-shirted protestors should, frankly, not be allowed. Religion is, at best, a personal and private matter and it should be kept that way.

    I wish your initiative for a common approach to a new electoral system the best of luck.


  2. Like much else in Singapore (the Constitution, for example), the electoral system needs a radical overhaul.

    With 21st century communications systems and a highly literate population, there is no reason why Singapore cannot be treated as one super-constituency for election purposes and the electoral system changed to one of proportional representation. In Israel, which is 30 times the size of Singapore, the whole country is treated as one constituency and parties contest on the basis of closed lists where voters vote for the party and not for individuals. Seats are assigned to parties in proportion to the votes received (with some caveats for minimum percentages as a threshold for entry to the Knesset). Singapore would benefit with a similar system.

    Apart from the supposed need to ensure minority representation, the PAP has justified the formation of GRCs on the basis of administrative convenience. This is obfuscation and a blurring of boundaries between the administrative and legislative functions. The need for running Town Councils must be stripped out of parliament completely and separate elections held to elect Town Councillors and a Mayor, who need not sit in parliament.

    In my view (which has, admittedly, evolved) both GRCs and SMCs are obsolete for Singapore’s needs as we move forward. Essentially national and local issues must be separated so that parliament’s time and energy is not tied down debating mundane issues such as Town Council accounts and the cleaning of hawker centre ceilings.

    It is also time to consider abolishing the Council of Presidential Advisors and replacing it with a proper Upper House of parliament which will have an advisory and not legislative role. The elected President, if the office is to be retained, must have a much larger supporting office, properly funded, so he is able to conduct independent research into the government’s spending, key appointments and the judiciary’s rulings. And, of course, an elected President must come into office only if he has been elected by a majority of voters and, for this purpose, run-off elections must be provided for.

    Finally, the retention of many British-era rules and forms by the Elections Department is anachronistic, to say the least, particularly those relating to campaign finance. Many of these serve to hobble the smaller parties and it is, therefore, not in the PAP’s interests to reform them. These rules need to be scrubbed and the forms radically simplified.

    It would be good to see a debate on these.


    • Fantastic to see that your view has evolved to be pretty much reform Party manifesto.
      I’ve been saying all of this of course since 2009 and it is quite strange to think that some of these ideas were seen as revolutionary then. As indeed was the very word ‘democracy’ which I was frequently urged not to use on the grounds that the people wouldn’t understand it.

      You might be mistaken about Israel. It’s certainly not a nation we want o take any examples away from. They are not a secular State and that affects their systems.

      In Israel the Ultra Orthodox, very much a minority, are able to hold the State to ransom as they hold a casting vote or vital balance for a majority coalition. Their undue and wholly disproportionate influence allows them to keep areas such as Jerusalem in a mediaeval condition or at least akin to 18th century Poland for example despite majority wishes. Who can say how different Israel would be today if the hawks and religious fundamentalists hadn’t had this sway? Israel is more commonly held up as an example of the potential pitfalls of PR as a system.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: