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When's the GE? Hint could come in parliament on Monday

Singaporeans could get a clearer idea of the timing of the next general election when parliament sits again on Monday.


SINGAPOREANS could get a clearer idea of the timing of the next general election when parliament sits again on Monday.

Two Members of Parliament, Arthur Fong of the ruling People's Action Party and Yee Jenn Jong of the opposition Workers' Party, intend to ask Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong whether the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has been formed.

Confirmation that the committee - appointed by the prime minister to review and draw up constituency boundaries for election - has been formed will be a significant sign that polls are around the corner.

The next GE must be held by January 2017 at the latest, although many expect it to happen as early as in the next few months.

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The order paper for Monday's sitting indicates that Mr Fong, an MP for West Coast GRC, will ask Mr Lee about the guidelines that the EBRC will follow.

Mr Yee, a non-constituency MP, wants to know the names of those in the committee. Typically, it is made up of five civil servants and chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.

Mr Yee will also ask when the committee's report will be published, and for the likely duration from the report's publication to the calling of the election.

In the build-up to the last two polls, in May 2006 and May 2011, it was PM Lee who announced the formation of the EBRC. On both occasions, the committee issued its report four months later.

While there is no fixed time frame for an election to be called after the report is submitted, it has taken anywhere from one day to eight weeks in the past.

After the last revision to the electoral rolls, the Elections Department announced in April that there are 2,460,484 eligible voters, an increase of more than 100,000 from the last election in 2011.

The questions by Mr Fong and Mr Yee on the status of the EBRC are among 88 submitted for oral answer in parliament; a further 29 are due for a written response.

Nominated MP Thomas Chua will ask Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to share the government's thinking behind Singapore's decision to be a founding member of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Two weeks ago in Beijing, 50 countries officially joined the US$100 billion multilateral institution, with seven more expected to get on board the China-led initiative later in the year.

Mr Chua wants to know how Singapore will contribute to the AIIB's capital, and the risks and opportunities for local companies as a result of the Republic's membership.

Non-constituency MP Gerald Giam wants to know about the "drastic" fall in job growth in Singapore and the implications of this on the economy. He will ask Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say why job growth fell from 40,700 in the fourth quarter of 2014 to just 300 jobs in the first three months of this year.

Eight Bills will be tabled for the first time, including an Organised Crime Bill and a Silver Support Scheme Bill; six other Bills are up for a second reading, including one to amend the Constitution to allow the government to include Temasek Holdings in its Net Investment Returns framework.

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