By-election not needed by law under GRC system if member dies or resigns — is it fair to the electorate?
The death of Dr Ong Chit Chung raises the question of whether a by-election should be held in Jurong GRC, where he was an MP.
According to Mr Lim Boon Heng, also an MP in Jurong GRC, and constitutional law expert Kevin Tan, no by-election is mandated, and the workload can be shared by the remaining GRC team. (ST article, 15 July)
For example, when senior minister of state for education Tay Eng Soon died in August 1993, other Eunos GRC MPs — Mr Charles Chong, Mr Chew Heng Ching and Mr Sidek Saniff — took care of Dr Tay’s residents in Tampines North.
In 1999, when then-Jalan Besar GRC MP Choo Wee Khiang resigned his seat in Parliament before he was convicted of a cheating offence, the three remaining MPs in Jalan Besar GRC — Dr Lee Boon Yang, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim and Mr Peh Chin Hua — took over Mr Choo’s duties in the Whampoa division.
I would therefore like to ask if the GRC system unfairly protects the incumbent party from having to face the electorate in the event that one of the GRC team members passes away or resigns his post.
After all, the electorate voted for the incumbent party on faith that all members of the team would take care of their needs if they were voted into office.
If one member is no longer able to serve the residents, shouldn’t the residents be polled again to determine if the rest of the GRC team is up to their expectations?