Equal and fair citizenship is a concept which originated from the political doctrine of Aristotle, undergoing permutations in that it does not necessarily pertain to individuals possessing a direct involvement in governance; instead, it embodies an amalgamation of rights accorded to citizens within legislation which exists as the basis and framework for ensuring vibrant socio-political activity. As an applied principle, this means that policies created with the intent of upholding equal opportunity and fair participation should not disenfranchise any community within society. With the General Elections just around the corner, there has been an increased focus on policies that many consider contentious. Prevailing concerns revolve around the seemingly self-serving redrawing of the boundaries which define constituencies across the island-state by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), whose members occupy a distinct majority of seats in parliament, and the framework within which voting ensues, with emphasis on the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system. Typically, the lines that demarcate Singapore’s constituencies are modified every four years just before General Elections are due, at the advice of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC). Members of this entity are appointed by the Prime Minister and collaborate with the Elections Department, which operates under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Political commentators and the public have long remarked that the methodology used to delimit these electoral divisions has not been audited by individuals and groups in society. Although the reasons given by government officials indicate that population and demographic shifts are responsible for decisions to amend constituency perimeters, the relevant statistics have never accompanied the release of new electoral boundaries, and has resulted in widespread speculation that the real reasons are less than politically and ethically justifiable.
Further to that, graphical representations of the divisions appear to advantage the ruling party. Constituencies with residents who have demonstrated a strong preference for opposition parties in previous General Elections have often been subsumed, either fractionally or completely, into others whose members are relatively more partial to the PAP. This year, observers have noted that GRCs held by incumbents who have become unpopular have either been dissolved and absorbed into other constituencies, or had SMCs supposedly meant to fall under their purview carved out of existing GRCs.