TL;DR – Don’t be stupid. There won’t be.
One of the biggest news in Singapore the last week was about Minister Heng’s stroke. Immediately after news of his stroke broke, many cabinet ministers took to Facebook to urge people to pray for Minister Heng’s recovery. Not surprisingly, there were some trolls who posted insensitive comments in response.
One such insensitive comments was posted on Minister Shanmugam’s Facebook page. It was so insensitive that it made Minister Shanmugam “feel sick”.
What comment was so egregious that it prompted such a strong response from Minister Shanmugam? It was a comment made by a certain Raymond Tan. Raymond thought he was very smart to ask this question:
After Minister Shanmugam posted that scathing response, many other people also joined in to rebuke Raymond Tan. This prompted Raymond Tan to put up a valiant attempt to justify why he asked that question.
You can read Min Shan’s original Facebook post here,
Raymond Tan may think he’s being very smart and rational to ask this question. But in reality, his question is extremely stupid. And it shows how lazy he is. A quick google search would have revealed the answer to his question.
Mr Chiam See Tong, who was MP for Potong Pasir from 1984 to 2011, suffered a stroke in 2008. He recovered sufficiently to be able to adequately discharge his duties as an MP. And even though there was a letter published in the Sunday Times in February 2009 asking if Mr Chiam should “call it a day”, Mr Chiam stayed on till the end of his term. There wasn’t a by-election then.
Similarly, if Minister Heng recovers sufficiently (and we hope he will!), he can still remain an MP.
But what if (touch wood!) he doesn’t? What then? Would we have a by-election?
Answer is… Nope. We won’t. Why?
Because Minister Heng is an MP in a GRC. Dr Ong Chit Chung was an MP in Jurong GRC. He passed away suddenly in July 2008, halfway through his second term as an MP in Jurong GRC. Similarly, Dr Balaji Sadasivan was an MP (of Ang Mo Kio GRC) when he passed away in September 2010. No by-elections were called on either of those occasions. PM Lee explained why in an interview in September 2010:
“(There is) nothing automatic about calling for a by-election. We have discussed this many times. In Jurong, Dr Ong Chit Chung passed away, we have not called for a by-election, there are other MPs looking after the ward. In Ang Mo Kio GRC, there are six of us and the other five will help to look after Chengsan – Seletar ward. I see no difficulty.”
Following that logic, given that Minister Heng is an MP in a GRC, there won’t be a by-election, regardless of the condition of Minister Heng. This is something that anyone with access to the Internet can find easily.
Ergo. The question about whether there will be a by-election because Minister Heng suffered a stroke is not only insensitive, but also extremely stupid.
All that said, we wish Minister Heng the speediest of recovery.