No by-election if Halimah Yacob leaves Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, quits PAP

From four-person GRC to three persons.

By Belmont Lay | July 17, 2017

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has given the clearest indication that she is going to run for the presidency due September 2017.

She said she is “considering standing” and “thinking about it”, in comments made to reporters on Sunday, July 16, after a community event at her Marsiling ward.

Halimah, 62, also said: “I need to consult my family and collegues who are supporting me in the various duties that I am doing.”

She has been Speaker of Parliament since Jan. 14, 2013.

Highly eligible

As the coming presidential election is reserved for candidates from the Malay community, she is considered highly eligible as she fulfils the criteria for those from the public sector, having spent at least three years in a key public office.

Besides, as Speaker of Parliament, she is required to assume the duties of the president should both the president and the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers be away, which almost appears to be fulfilling a role tailor-made for her.

However, to contest the election, she will have to step down as Speaker of Parliament and MP of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC by Nomination Day.

This would involve resigning from the People’s Action Party, of which she is a member of the central executive committee.

But any talk of having a by-election in the event a minority GRC MP resigning has been quashed.

No by-election because Parliament has enough minority MPs

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Feb. 6, 2017, that if a minority candidate leaves the group representation constituency (GRC), a by-election will not be called.

Chan’s response was a reply to the Workers’ Party’s Pritam Singh, who asked in Parliament what would happen if a minority member of a GRC stepped down to run for president.

Singh had used Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob as an example.

Chan said the GRC system has been in place since 1988 to include at least one member of a minority race in each team and to ensure that political campaigning based on race, language or religion will not occur, as elected members are to serve all Singaporeans, regardless.

The outcome of such a system has seen more than enough minority MPs in Parliament.

Chan said there are 25 minority MPs out of 89, “more than what you’d expect proportionately from adding up the percentage of Malays, Indians and other minorities”.

“Even if we have one less, that is 24 out of 89, which is 27 percent of Parliament,” he said.

Chan then twice addressed Halimah as “Madam President” instead of “Madam Speaker”, to loud laughter near the end of the Parliament debate.

If Halimah really leaves Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, the four-person team would become three persons. Her team mates are Lawrence Wong, Alex Yam and Ong Teng Koon.

Singapore has not had a Malay president since Yusof Ishak, the country’s first president, died in office in 1970.


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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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