Some Opposition parties on Friday (Jul 24) expressed their disappointment with the changes to the boundaries of electoral constituencies, citing in particular the dissolution of Joo Chiat SMC and Moulmein-Kallang GRC, as well as the downsizing of East Coast GRC.
But The Workers’ Party (WP) was the most aggrieved, having put up a strong showing in Joo Chiat in the 2011 General Election. Its candidate, Mr Yee Jenn Jong, lost the contest by a narrow margin of 2.04 per cent to Mr Charles Chong from the People’s Action Party (PAP).
Mr Yee, who is currently a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (MP), told TODAY he was “very disappointed” with the scrapping of Joo Chiat SMC. “Residents would (all) have known that I’ve been visiting their area over and over again, so now that it has disappeared, I’ll need time to digest the implications,” he said.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Mr Yee also wrote that with “the eraser and the pencil”, the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has made the Joo Chiat SMC “with such a rich and unique tradition disappear”.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the WP said it is studying the EBRC report before deciding on which constituencies to contest. “We will field the best candidates we can find to give Singaporeans a choice at the upcoming GE,” it added.
As to the dissolution of the Moulmein-Kallang GRC, Mr Goh Meng Seng, secretary-general of the newly-registered People’s Power Party, felt that it was a move to let Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, one of the MPs in the area, to “avoid a serious challenge”.
As Transport Minister, Mr Lui has had to grapple with the public backlash arising from a spate of train disruptions in recent months.
Separately, Democratic Progressive Party secretary-general Benjamin Pwee, said: “We call on him (Mr Lui), Minister of National Development (Mr Khaw Boon Wan), and Minister of Health (Mr Gan Kim Yong) to stand in a SMC, and test the level of voter support for them in the coming elections.”
Mr Pwee, however, said the changes to the electoral boundaries, announced yesterday, were “not as dramatic and extensive” as the party had expected.
While he felt that the absorption of Joo Chiat and Whampoa SMCs appeared to be due to the two constituencies being hotly contested in 2011, Mr Pwee also noted that “Potong Pasir that PAP won by a sliver remains untouched”.
On the downsizing of East Coast GRC from a five- to four-man constituency, Mr Goh noted that it seemed like the ruling party was “trying to cut (its) losses” following the close-fight in last election.
Mr Sebastian Teo, president of the National Solidarity Party (NSP), said he had expected such changes from the EBRC. “We are used to contest(ing) in a very unfair situation. We don’t expect (them) to come up with something that is very favourable for us to contest.”
Describing the downsizing of five- to four-man GRCs as not that significant, Mr Teo instead called for more drastic changes, such as introducing three-man GRCs so that Opposition parties will be able to contest in more constituencies.
While pointing out that it was “unfair” that the EBRC scrapped Joo Chiat SMC, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Alliance Desmond Lim added that to ensure fairer elections, it is best to abolish the GRC system and allow parties to contest in SMCs instead.
Writing on her Facebook page, Singapore People’s Party member Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss said she was happy that Mountbatten SMC retained its perimeters and reiterated her promise to participate in the upcoming polls.
Ms Chong-Aruldoss contested the single-seat ward while she was still with the NSP in the last GE, losing to PAP’s Lim Biow Chuan.