Elections just weeks away?

From Channel Newsasia:

Singapore’s Electoral Boundaries Review Committee convened
By S Ramesh

HANOI: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee has been convened.

Typically, the prime minister appoints the committee just before a General Election to review the electoral division boundaries and recommend changes.

The committee examines the growth of the voter population from the last General Election and recommends the number of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and single-member constituencies (SMCs) and their boundaries.

Speaking to the Singapore media on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on Saturday, Mr Lee said he has issued the instruction to convene the committee and it is being chaired by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Tan Kee Yong.

Prime Minister Lee’s revelation comes hot on the heels of a speech made by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Friday at a university forum that the political buzz will increase in Singapore as many Singaporeans believe that the General Election will be held later this year or early next year.

Prime Minister Lee weighed in with this to say: “I don’t think it is any surprise. Elections are due some time before February 2012, so if you haven’t got the signal by now, something must be wrong with you.”

On when the report by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee would be out, Mr Lee said Singaporeans would have to wait and see.

The release of the report is seen as one of the clearest signals of a General Election around the corner.

For the 2006 General Election, the report was released about seven weeks before Nomination Day.

With changes to the Parliamentary Elections Act in Singapore to increase the number of SMCs from the current nine to 12, and to reduce the size of some of the GRCs, especially the ones with six MPs currently, the final report of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee would be very much looked out for by current Members of Parliament and the opposition parties, some of whom have already been reserving the GRCs which they want to contest in.

Prime Minister Lee also revealed that he expects to bring in quite a number of new candidates and several potential office holders to contest in the upcoming elections.

He said: “I expect to bring in quite a number of new candidates and several potential office holders and they will strengthen my leadership team.

“But I am not announcing elections today. But there will be time to introduce them and get to know them.”

On the latest Cabinet revamp announced by him on Wednesday, before he left for the Hanoi summit, Mr Lee said it is a reshuffle with the cards which the government presently has.

He said: “It’s a reshuffle with the cards which we presently have. For the ministers, as I said in my comment, it is a logical consequence or move which we set a couple of years ago when I appointed Lui Tuck Yew as Acting Minister and when I brought in Shanmugam as the Law Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs. So gradually we are bringing them into positions and putting them in place.

“(For the) Parliamentary Secretaries, (their promotions) is a reward for performance and contributions. They are all deserving and I think they will continue to work hard in the same portfolios they have been hitherto, because I haven’t reshuffled them. Beyond that, we will wait till I bring in new cards, which means I bring in new candidates, which will be in the general election.”

Singapore’s leaders have said that out of the next General Election, the country must produce Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister and a core team of younger Ministers who will take over from the present team.