Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in the parliament on 13 July that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee had already been formed two months ago after Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Yee Jenn Jong asked who are the committee members of EBRC, 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.
In response to Mr Yee’s questions, PM Lee said,
“Madam Speaker, the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) was formed two months ago.
I have asked the Committee in its review to consider the population shifts and housing developments since the last boundary delineation exercise, to have smaller Group Representation Constituencies, so as to reduce the average size of the Group Representation Constituencies below 5, and to have at least 12 Single Member Constituencies.
As per past practice, the Committee is chaired by the Secretary to Prime Minister. It is now in the midst of its deliberations and will make its recommendations to me when it is ready.”
Mr Lee went on to answer another question in regards to the report of the boundary changes by EBRC,
Madam Speaker, I think the Committee will publish its report and to the maximum extent possible, we will make sure that there is enough time elapsed so that everybody can read the report, understand it and know where they stand before elections are called. But I don’t think it is possible to say that we promise a certain minimum period such as six months because it depends very much on the exigencies of the situation and on when Elections become necessary.
Secondly, on the composition of the EBRC. EBRC has for many years comprised civil servants who have domain knowledge which enabled them to make considered decisions on how to divide up the constituencies taking into account, as I have said, population shifts, housing developments, and also to do this in a practical sort of way so that you do not have a complete upheaval each time you have a re-demarcation. If there is a need for outside expertise, I think that can be considered and they will have no hesitation to look for outside expertise. As for bringing political parties in, I am not sure that is an entirely good idea. The Americans do it with political parties, and the way it’s done is that the sitting members – this is for the Lower House, for the House of Representatives – the members decide on the demarcation and usually what happens is that they carve it up amongst themselves. It is a political deal; I think that’s not a good arrangement. I think it’s best we leave this to the civil servants to work at.
As for the completeness of the report and of the minutes, I think I’ll have to leave it to the Committee. I don’t believe that it is helpful to have every twist and turn in the minutes reported and published. I think the Committee’s report is the final word.”
What was not said by PM Lee in his responses, is the actual date of when the committee was formed and the date when discussions for the committee took place.
We would assume the planning of such national event to be of interest to the general and be put up for scrutiny. So, with the idea that the election department is an independent public institute, TOC wrote to the department to enquire about the exact date and the date which discussions were held to determine the date for ERBC to be formed.
However, instead of replying with the actual date of when the ERBC was formed and when the discussions took place, the election department replied to TOC, asking to refer to the same responses by PM Lee made in parliament.
Below is the email conversation between TOC and ELD. And let’s just say the writer felt patronised by the election department.