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SMC-Only Contests, Please: Building a Level Playing Field Should Start from the Top

RONALD LEE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday (20 May) that anyone in Singapore can succeed despite their family background.

Speaking at a dialogue session with Nee Soon residents, he said

“Whoever your parents are, whatever your situation is, if you work hard, even (children) of single parents, it depends on your determination.”

If Mr Shanmugam really believes in a fair fight, then he should push the government to start from the top, with Singapore’s governance, and lobby for the removal of the GRC system and re-institution of all one-on-one Single Member Constituency contests in the General Election.

One man, one vote, for the one person they want representing ward in parliament.

Not having “anchor” ministers scattered across GRCs, so that Singaporeans can only vote along “love me, love my team” lines.

If MPs want to get into parliament, they have to prove their mettle before they get elected.

Do away with the GRC system which has proven to an outdated model in ensuring that minorities can get equal representation in parliament.

Singaporeans have proven that our mettle when it comes to voting on meritocracy – look at the result of the Chee-Murali fight in the Bukit Batok by-election.

And despite the government’s apparent reluctance, 70 percent of Singaporeans want to see Tharman Shanmugaratnam as our next prime minister over the 3 Chinese “front-runners” for the position.

Even among the opposition, Singapore has seen how strong the support is for SDP chairman Paul Tambyah, and Workers’ Party secretary-general Pritam Singh.

The GRC system is a relic which only serves to remind us of our racially-segregated past.

So if the government is serious about levelling the playing field (and let’s not start on gerry-mandering) it should scrap the GRC system and have an all-SMC contest.

The government has thrown out many statements in an attempt to persuade the public that social inequality in Singapore isn’t as bad as what’s being felt on the ground.

But, it doesn’t appear to be walking the talk.

The government says that every school is a good school, then goes ahead and tears down neighbourhood junior colleges while improving infrastructure around elite junior colleges.

It says that you don’t need a degree to get a “good” job, but anyone who has applied for a job in the civil service will know that paper qualifications matter.

Even government land development policies, as this PAP MP for Jurong GRC has raised, serve to further the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Change starts from the top, and governance sits atop the pyramid.

Unless, the government believes it still cannot trust the Singaporean public to do what’s right today.



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