By Ariffin Sha
When Parliament sits again on 13 July, two Members of Parliament, MP Arthur Fong and Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong, will raise questions on whether the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has been formed.
The formation of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) is one of the first signs that a General Election is not too far away.
The Committee normally publishes an updated list of electoral divisions just before elections are called, and is appointed by the Prime Minister.
In an interview with the Straits Times, Mr Fong said that it was “natural to ask the question” and he also added that he intends to ask Parliament what guidelines the committee would follow.
Mr Yee intends to question Parliament in order to know well who the committee members are, when its report is expected to be published, and how much time will elapse between the report’s publication and the calling of an election.
He also told media that the government should make it a point to announce the panel’s formation, so Singaporeans and those in the political scene can have a better idea of when the polls will be held.
The electoral divisions denotes the constituency – be it a Single Member Constituency (SMC) or a Group Representative Constituency (GRC) – where each citizen is voting under, based on where he or she lives.
The changing boundaries that follow the EBRC updates, coupled by the lack of transparency about why certain areas have been moved from one constituency to another, has often led to opposition parties accusing the ruling People’s Action Party of gerrymandering, or exploiting the electoral boundaries to their advantage.
In an interview in Korea last year, PM Lee dropped a hint on when the next elections may be held.
We will have to take all this (year-long celebrations) into account and make soundings and choose the right moment. Not necessarily when everybody is expecting it,
Before the General Elections in 2006 and 2011, the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself announced the formation of the committee in Parliament. On both occasions, the Committee took about four months before issuing its report.
Following the issuance of the report, General Elections have been announced between 1 – 56 days after. In GE 2011, the report was issued on 24 February and Parliament was dissolved on 19 April.
As of April this year, there are about 2.46 million eligible voters. This is an increase of more than 100,000 from the last election.