In a bid to garner the support of Singaporeans for the People’s Voice Party, founder Lim Tean has proposed to remove the Group Representative Constituency (GRC) system should representatives from the party be elected to Parliament, as he believes that the system has enabled representatives from the People’s Action Party (PAP) who are “not qualified to be MPs” to be “swept into Parliament”.
Mr Lim, in a Facebook post on Friday (16 Nov), drew contrasts between the parliamentary democracy practiced in the United Kingdom and the one practiced in Singapore, most markedly being that the backbenchers from the Conservative Party “understand that their decision may well lead to their party losing power but they are standing up for country and not narrow party interest,” and are thus not afraid of “revolting” against their leader Theresa May’s “proposed deal” with the European Union regarding Brexit.
In the UK, under the legislative arm of the Westminster system, backbenchers are Members of Parliament who hold office neither in the government nor the opposition, and who sit behind the front benches in the House of Commons. Singapore’s parliamentary system is also modelled on the Westminster system.
Mr Lim wrote: “A Parliamentary Democracy can only function properly if all MPs are able to put country before party, and vote for the national interest ahead of party interest. That is the quality which the Conservative backbenchers are displaying at the moment! They understand that their decision may well lead to their party losing power but they are standing up for country and not narrow party interest.”
He subsequently drew attention to their Singaporean counterparts: “The PAP backbenchers are nothing more than “yes” men, and the system has resulted in a catastrophic decline in the quality of our Parliament where the debates are poor and MPs are mocked for their abysmal attendance.
“That is what you get when you have people who are not qualified to be MPs swept into Parliament on the back of a disreputable system,” concluded Mr Lim.