Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) – Does It Really Safeguard the Interests of Minority Group?
Singapore introduced the GRC to ensure that the minority group is represented in Parliament. The argument is that without GRC, it would be very difficult for minority groups (Malay, Indian and Eurasian) to compete against Chinese for popular votes and risk not represented in Parliament.
This argument is flawed as minority has always been proportionately represented in the parliament even prior to the establishment of GRC. If we look into the current and previous cabinet, we can see that even at its highest level, the minority races are represented. This policy is, in fact, an insult to the minority groups as it suggests that people of their races would not be able to enter the Parliament through their own merits.
I strongly believe that good leaders, regardless of their races, would be able to make informed and sound policies without prejudicing any races. After all, a Chinese MP would be able to hear and address the concerns of other races as well as an Indian or Malay MP. Moreover, the Parliament makes decisions by voting. Even with the introduction of GRC, the minority groups would still be outnumbered should there be any voting required for policies that cross the racial line. As such, we are still dependent on the goodwill of the majority to vote sensibly after hearing the views of minority groups. As such, GRC does not safeguard the interests of minority groups.
To safeguard the views of minority, we can propose that the committee appointed by the President to elect their own Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP) to represent the views of minority groups. Currently, the committee determines if the candidates for the election belongs to any minority groups. These NMPs should be given veto power if any policy proposed by the Parliament is prejudiced against the minority groups. The said policy would then require Presidential Endorsement which would act as another layer of safeguard. These NMPs would be the best people to serve the needs of the minority groups as they are not under the Party Whip and do not have vested political interests.
Abolishing the GRC would bring about many benefits:
1. Each candidate would contest based on individual merits
2. Allowing independent candidates or smaller political parties to compete fairly
3. Prevent bigger parties to sneak in below par candidates into the team
The merits of abolishing the GRC outweigh the objective of the GRC. We have established that GRC is not required to maintain a minority presence and additional safeguards could be achieved through a more effective NMP scheme.