Friday, May 12, 2006

The Minority Report

Who is the Minority?The Singapore Elections Department has clarified the criteria it uses to determine if a person qualifies for a Minority Certificate that can be used to certify that a GRC has all the requisite people to form a GRC. In response to a reader's query why the Race on one's National Identity Card (NRIC) that all Singapore citizens hold cannot be used to certify eligibility, it wrote:

"Race" as stated in an identity card (IC) does not meet the requirement for minority certification. This is because for the purpose of GRC candidature, certification is, firstly, to ensure that the minority communities are properly represented by people who are accepted by them as members of their communities and, secondly, that there is no dispute over this point on Nomination Day.

The certificate states that the candidate has been certified by the appointed Malay/Indian or other Minority Community Committee as a person belonging to a particular community (and not just to a particular race).

For example, a person belonging to the Malay community is defined as any person - whether of the Malay race or otherwise - who considers himself to be a member of the Malay community and who is generally accepted as a member of the Malay community by that community. Today, 11 May 2006

I learnt something new today - that the minority applicant/candidate need not necessarily be of the race it seeks to represent. So an ethnic Chinese or an ethnic Indian can represent the Malay community as a Minority candidate so long as the Malay community accepts the person. But who in the Malay community decides? The Elections Department clarified that it is an appointed committee that will decide, which begs the question, who appoints the committee? What if a section of, say, the Malay community (and I don't mean a Malay community of Chinese, however convoluted that may sound) do not agree with the appointed committee? Then is the certification of the applicant/candidate valid anymore? How can those in the ethnic community in question who dissent make their views known? Can they reject the application? Who will decide either way, and is there a law to help one to decide without ambiguity? I am not a lawyer, and I only learnt about this yesterday through the Elections Department letter quoted above. But from my conversations with fellow Singaporeans over the GE week, the reader's query is shared by not a few of them. One of them is an Indian who is passed 50. He is an educator. I do not think the younger ones are any wiser either. I daresay some politicians across all parties who stood for or were involved in the GE 2006 are not aware of this either. It would seem then that this is a revelation for many of us Singaporeans.

It is an irony that we learnt this only AFTER the elections.

1 comment :

leopsyche said...

Yes, it is interesting that these clarifications are only offered after the elections. I am intrigued with whether these rules will remain the same until 2011.