Concerns over plan to increase opposition presence

Dear MPs,

I refer to your statements in the parliament as reported by Straits Times on 27 Apr 2010.

Mr Alvin Yeo,

You pointed out that the criticism of the PAP speaking with one voice also applies to the Worker’s Party. But the PAP voice is 82 strong compared to the WP’s voice of only 2. Those 82 voices easily drown out the two lone voices rendering the alternative voice so much less audible compared to the noise and fury of the PAP.

You said having more non-constituency MPs will only add sound and fury, not quality. But who are you to judge sound or fury or quality? Since you share the same stage as non-constituency MPs, you too are part of the sound and fury. It is us citizens who get to judge which MP adds sound and fury but not quality. My advice to you is, don’t worry about others, worry about yourself and show us some quality.

Mr Zaqy and Ms Irene,

You are concerned that there is nothing holding back non-constituency MPs from making provocative comments and populist calls since they do not have to be accountable to their constituents. Logicaly speaking, your concerns have no merit. If you say that an elected MP must refrain from saying things that provoke his own constituents, then he can always say things that provoke people from other constituencies. In other words, his binding to his own constituency does not restrict him from making provocative comments to other constituencies. Similarly, there is nothing stopping him from making populist calls that at the same time benefit his own constituency. Thus, the fear of provocative comments and populist calls apply as much to elected MPs as it does to non-constituency MPs.

You said elected MPs think differently and have to stand by what they say because they have to answer to their constituents. Are you saying that non-constituency MPs do not have to stand by what they say and can say anything they like? You would be most foolish to think that way because there is no reason why MM Lee won’t sue an MP just because he or she has no constituency to answer to. In fact, JB Jayaretnam was not only sued as an elected MP, he was also sued as a non-constituency MP. Thus, there is no difference whether your are elected or non-constituency. As long as you are an MP, you must stand by what you say or represent.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak,

You said voters have reasons not to elect the losing candidate because they do not want him or her speaking on their behalf. But voters don’t choose whom they don’t want in parliament, voters choose whom they want instead. You do not put a cross on the ballot paper to indicate who you do not want in parliament. You put a cross on the ballot paper to indicate who you want in parliament.

Your suggestion does not resolve the unfair situation where a candidate wins a seat even though he only won 55% of the votes while his opponent candidate wins nothing even though he won 45% of the votes. A fairer solution can be found in an improved version of the GRC system.

Suppose a GRC comprises three constituencies with three seats to be won, if the opposition wins at least 33% of the votes, then the opposition should be awarded one of the three seats. If the PAP wins at least 67% of the votes, it should be awarded two of the three seats. If the opposition wins 45% of the votes while the PAP wins 55% of the votes, then the opposition gets at least one seat, the PAP also gets at least one seat. For the remaining seat, we note that the opposition’s vote balance is 45% – 33% = 12% while the PAP’s vote balance is 55% – 33% = 22%. Since the PAP’s vote balance of 22% is higher than the opposition’s vote balance of 12%, the last remaining seat goes to the PAP. This will ensure fairer representation of popular votes within the GRC framework. Since in our examples, the PAP gets two seats, it should be the party to provide the minority candidate.

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