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Election history was made in Singapore on 7 May 2011 when the opposition Workers' Party won a record SIX seats in Parliament. And the crowd of WP supporters was simply ecstatic.
Now 6 out of 87 seats may not seem like a lot, but ever since independence in 1965, the number of opposition Members of Parliament in Singapore had ranged from zero to two.
More significantly, the Workers' Party won its first ever GRC or Group Representative Constituency, where MPs are elected not as individuals, but in teams of four to six people. In the process, two Ministers from the ruling People's Action Party were voted out - another historical first for Singapore.
The GRC system was introduced in 1988, purportedly to ensure that minority races like Malays and Indians are represented in Parliament, since each GRC must include at least one minority candidate.
However, its introduction came shortly after the late J B Jeyaretnam became the first opposition party member to win a seat in Parliament (in a by-election).
Thus, the GRC system is widely perceived as a way for the ruling party to make it more difficult for opposition parties - which were traditionally weak, but now stronger than ever - to field candidates and win elections.
All that changed in 2011. Politics in Singapore has never been the same since.
Also by Richard Seah
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