Not too long ago, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew took pains to try to convince some 30 year olds that the GRC system was necessary to ensure minorities were represented in parliament. He blamed it on "viscereal" motivations on the part of the electorate.
Straits Times June 27, 2006
GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM
Without good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politics
By Li Xueying
SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics.
Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'.
'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC).
'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?
'But he was quick to add that GRCs themselves do not guarantee victory.
'A minister wins only because he has won the people's trust and the Government has delivered good results for the people. If a minister performed poorly, it could result in his losing the GRC to an opposing team with a strong leader,' he said, in what appears to be an oblique reference to comments made against GRCs in the general election held this May.
Since GRCs were introduced in 1988, critics and the opposition have attacked them, saying they allow rookie People's Action Party (PAP) candidates to get into Parliament on the coat tails of heavyweight candidates in their team.
Also, they do not lend themselves to a level playing field, they add, as the opposition struggles to find the specified minority-race candidates.
Mr Goh carried four new faces into Parliament in the six-man Marine Parade GRC team, which was unchallenged at the 2006 polls.