Monday, 11 April 2011

NCMP: The flip side of the GRC

This blog is still under construction. Please excuse the mess.

In my previous post, I explained why the GRC is needed. Now, let's see how it might be unfair.

The GRC system provides the ruling party with an advantage. They can let an untested candidate ride on the coat-tails of politically established MP and coast into parliament, untried, untested, unstressed.

In contrast, at this stage of the oppositions' development, candidates have to fight and win every vote themselves.

But consider: If the opposition does the insurmountable and win a GRC, they become the incumbents and unless they screw up badly, they have the incumbents' advantage in the next election. Look at how long Chiam and Low held their respective wards once they won them. Of course, there were also one-hit wonders like Ling and Cheo.

So the GRC advantage is not a ruling party advantage, but an incumbent's advantage. In the next election, an opposition-held GRC can retire one MP (or more) and bring in a fresh face. Of course the incumbent's advantage is only an advantage if the team perform well or well enough.

But, the task of winning a GRC in the first place is not easy, so for now, the deck seems to be stacked against the opposition.

Now this could have stayed this way, but in all fairness, the PAP offered a side door to the opposition, even as they used the GRC to close many doors to them.

The Non-Constituency Member of Parliament or NCMP scheme is unique to Singapore. This scheme allows the best opposition losers (if there are less than 9 elected opposition MPs) to enter parliament as NCMP (now up to 9 NCMP and opposition MP in total).

So an opposition that does very well but still doesn't win all the votes necessary to repesent the constituency, can still slip into parliament on the NCMP ticket. This is the flip side to the GRC system.

So untried, untested, but promising opposition candidates can make it into parliament where they can show their ability, and if they are good enough, they could parley their credible performance in parliament to win a seat in the next election.

That's a pretty good deal for the opposition.

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