Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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Red Dot United calls for probe into PM Lee’s decision leaving voters in equivalent one GRC without representation

SINGAPORE — Red Dot United (RDU) is calling on Parliament to conduct an investigation into the Prime Minister’s decisions, which have significantly impacted the effectiveness of Parliament and left thousands of Singaporeans without proper representation.

“As PM’s political games leave voters without representation, RDU calls on Parliament to investigate the PM.”

RDU made this call in response to two recent resignations of Members of Parliament. Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of the Parliament and MP for Marine Parade GRC, and Ms. Cheng Li Hui, MP for Tampines GRC, resigned from both Parliament and the People’s Action Party (PAP).

On Monday (17 Jul), Singapore’s political landscape was shocked by the resignations of both PAP MPs due to their inappropriate relationship.

A total of five vacant seats in Parliament

Currently, there are a total of five vacant seats in Parliament, a rarity in Singapore’s history outside of the turbulent early years.

Besides Mr Tan and MS Cheng, The other three MPs who resigned or were put on suspension are as follows:

In 2021, Raeesah Khan, then a Workers’ Party MP, was found to have lied in Parliament, On 30 November 2021, Raeesah submitted her resignation from the Workers’ Party and Parliament following the probe over her admission of lying.

On 8 June this year, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam officially declared his intention to run for the presidency of Singapore, and resigned from all his positions in government, including his membership in the PAP. His resignation took effect on 7 July.

Last Friday, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) disclosed that Transport Minister S. Iswaran was arrested on 11 July in connection with a corruption investigation. PM Lee has directed Minister Iswaran to take a leave of absence until the investigation is completed.

As Mr Iswaran steps aside, other MPs from his West Coast constituency take up his duties.

The combination of resignations and suspensions left voters in the equivalent of one GRC without any representation 

In a statement issued on Tuesday (18 Jul), RDU expressed deep concern about these recent developments and emphasized that the combination of resignations and suspensions has left voters in the equivalent of one Group Representation Constituency (GRC) without any representation.

These raise important concerns about the stability and efficacy of our democratic processes. RDU believes that these developments highlight the need for greater transparency, accountability, and measures to bridge the representation gap.

What makes this situation particularly noteworthy is that two of these MPs, Mr. Tharman and Mr. Iswaran, who left their positions, were the designated minority candidates for their respective GRCs.

“The absence of a minority candidate not triggering a by-election seems contradictory to the government’s claim that the GRC system ensures minority representation. ”

RDU recognizes that Mr. Tharman’s decision to contest the Presidential Election is within his rights; however, it leaves the residents of Jurong GRC without their elected representative, depriving them of a dedicated voice in addressing their concerns and needs.

“The lack of direct representation diminishes the ability of constituents to actively participate in the democratic process, ” RDU reminds.

Concerns raised by RDU over delayed clarification on Minister Iswaran’s arrest

Moreover, the temporary suspension of Mr Iswaran further compounds the disadvantage faced by voters. The absence of the MP in the constituency hinders residents from receiving the essential services and support they require.

RDU also highlighted that what’s more troubling in this case is the delayed clarification regarding Minister Iswaran’s arrest.

“It was only when another related party in the case, businessman Ong Beng Seng, had to disclose his own arrest status that it was clarified – two days after initial announcements were made – that Minister Iswaran had, in fact, also been arrested. ”

Regarding former Tampines GRC MP Ms Cheng, RDU respects individuals’ privacy and believes in giving them space to resolve personal matters. However, it is important to acknowledge that Ms Cheng’s resignation has resulted in a loss of representation for Tampines residents.

“It directly affects their ability to have their voices heard and concerns addressed, thereby limiting their participation in the democratic process. ”

Furthermore, the resignation of Mr Tan as the Speaker of Parliament and MP for Marine Parade GRC, also due to an inappropriate relationship with Ms Cheng, raises significant questions about the integrity and impartiality of our elected officials.

RDU expressed serious concern over the Prime Minister’s endorsement of Mr Tan’s continuation as Speaker, despite being aware of the potential conflict of interest months earlier.

“Such decisions undermine the trust Singaporeans place in their leaders and disregard the importance of upholding ethical conduct and ensuring fair representation. ”

Lack of transparency undermines Singaporeans’ trust, says Ravi Philemon

“In light of these recent developments, RDU urges Parliament to investigate the Prime Minister’s decisions, which have had a direct impact on the effectiveness of Parliament and left thousands of Singaporeans without proper representation, ” stated Ravi Philemon, the secretary-general of RDU.

He emphasized that Singapore’s Constitution is based on the separation of powers, with the legislature (MPs) responsible for checking the executive (PM and his Cabinet), thus ensuring transparency and accountability in the governance system.

“These incidents highlight a concerning pattern of the Prime Minister withholding critical information until circumstances escalate or external pressure demands clarification.”

Mr Philemon added, “This lack of transparency undermines Singaporeans’ trust in the government and erodes the efficiency of our governance system.”

The decisions made by PM Lee regarding the aforementioned MPs deprive voters of the representation they deserve and impede their ability to actively participate in shaping their communities, he said.

“RDU firmly believes in the importance of transparency, accountability, and voter empowerment. We call upon the Prime Minister to prioritise these principles and ensure that timely and accurate information is provided to the public. ”

RDU stressed that it is crucial for Parliament to take immediate action to restore public trust, address the representation gap, and uphold the democratic ideals that Singaporeans hold dear.

“Only through an inclusive and transparent political landscape can we achieve a truly empowered electorate and a stronger Singapore.”


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