Singapore #GE2020 history feature: How did Aljunied GRC come about? Why is it nowhere near Aljunied? Why does it have a ward called Bedok Reservoir-Punggol? What does this say about electoral boundaries in Singapore?

A short history of the GRC's evolution, in a thread:
The political ward of Aljunied (a single seat, all wards were single-seat then) came about in 1959, when a General Election was held for all 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly. This was a key election - with this, Britain was to grant Singapore full internal self-government.
Aljunied's creation in 1959 made sense because Aljunied-Upper Aljunied Road ran through it. The ward occupied an area which is mostly Potong Pasir SMC and MacPherson SMC today. It covered the farming communities and villages of the Potong Pasir, Aljunied, and MacPherson areas.
For 1959, please take note of two other wards near Aljunied:

1) Paya Lebar. Its sharp boundaries to the east were because of the runway of Singapore Airport (right, now Paya Lebar Air Base).

2) Kampong Kembangan (I'll explain why later).
In the 1959 election, Aljunied saw a 3-corner fight, which the People's Action Party won (not the last time the PAP would win a 3-corner fight). Suppiah Visva Lingam, 28, won 49.4% of the vote.

In all, the PAP, an Opposition party, won 43 out of 51 seats to come to power.
Fast forward two elections to 1968.

Aljunied was carved up into Potong Pasir, Aljunied, and part of MacPherson. Aljunied-Upper Aljunied Road was now Aljunied ward's western boundary.

As for Potong Pasir, it would go to the Opposition - SDP's Chiam See Tong - in 1984.
Meanwhile, to the east, the ward of Kampong Ubi was created out of Geylang Serai and Joo Chiat.

The ward of Kampong Kembangan was reduced in size, although it still made up a good portion of the Malay Settlement off Jalan Eunos.
Fast forward again to the 1980 election.

Aljunied ward more or less remained the same.

Kampong Ubi grew, absorbing some of Kampong Kembangan.

And as for Kampong Kembangan, it shifted east to relatively new Bedok North Avenue 1, to cover part of Bedok New Town.
The 1988 election saw the implementation of the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system.

Official reason: To "ensure that Singapore's Parliament would always be multiracial in composition and representation".
However, there are numerous criticisms of the GRC system, such as making it harder for Opposition candidates to be elected, diluting voting power, and allowing less popular MPs (almost always from the incumbent) to be "protected" or "parachuted" into office.
As a result of the GRC system, 13 GRCs were created in 1988.

One of them was Aljunied GRC (in blue), created from the wards of Aljunied, Kampong Ubi, and Kampong Kembangan.

It also took in parts of Braddell Heights, Geylang Serai, and Paya Lebar wards.
The result was a three-member Aljunied GRC which spread from Upper Serangoon Road to East Coast Road, with an electorate of 65,351.

Even though Kampong Ubi was the ward located in the geographical centre, the name adopted for the GRC was Aljunied.
In 1988, the Singapore Democratic Party contested the incumbent PAP in Aljunied GRC, but the latter won with a team of Chin Harn Tong, Wan Hussin bin Zoohri, and newcomer George Yeo, securing 56.3% of the vote. Yeo eventually became the MP for Kampong Kembangan.
In the 1991 election, Aljunied GRC absorbed Paya Lebar ward to become a four-member GRC, increasing its electorate to 94,490. Now, because of Paya Lebar, the GRC reached as far north as Tampines Road and Lorong Halus (left).

For this election, the GRC was uncontested.
Significant changes were in store for the 1997 election - Aljunied grew to a five-member GRC.

It spread east, absorbing Eunos from Eunos GRC, and Changkat South from Tampines GRC. Changkat South was renamed Changi-Simei.

Meanwhile, Kampong Ubi moved to Marine Parade GRC.
As for the ward of Aljunied, it was redrawn.

To the northwest, it absorbed part of Serangoon Gardens ward (Thomson GRC).

To the west, a strip of land was handed over to Geylang Serai ward (Marine Parade GRC).
So, for the 1997 election, a geographical oddity was created, because Aljunied-Upper Aljunied Road was no longer in Aljunied ward or Aljunied GRC - it was now between Potong Pasir SMC and Marine Parade GRC!
For the 1997 election, Aljunied GRC comprised the wards of Aljunied, Kampong Kembangan, Paya Lebar, Eunos, and Changi-Simei, with an electorate of 103,466.

The SDP challenged the PAP again, but lost; George Yeo's team increased its vote share to 67%.
This is a good time to bring in the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC).

The panel is appointed by the Prime Minister. It is responsible for the drawing of polling districts, i.e. its work directly affects the evolution of electoral maps.
The Opposition has argued that the EBRC redraws political boundaries without clear explanation, e.g. constituencies absorbed into GRCs after close electoral fights. One word has been tossed around: Gerrymandering.
Back to Aljunied GRC. The 2001 election saw big changes for the GRC.

Back in 1997, there was a big battle between the PAP and the Workers' Party in Cheng San GRC, which the latter narrowly lost, grabbing 45.2% of the vote. In 2001, surprise! Cheng San GRC was dissolved.
For the 2001 election, Aljunied GRC took in part of Cheng San GRC's Punggol South ward, which was renamed the odd-sounding Aljunied-Hougang.

The place name "Aljunied" was attached to "Hougang" only because an area in Hougang town was shoehorned into a new GRC.
But there's more. The ward of Kampong Kembangan was divided into Aljunied-Kembangan and Kembangan-Punggol.

Again, "Aljunied" was attached to "Kembangan" only because an area in Kembangan belonged to Aljunied GRC.
For Kembangan-Punggol, it comprised a part of Kampong Kembangan, the Paya Lebar Air Base part of Paya Lebar ward, parts of Pasir Ris GRC's Pasir Ris South ward, and part of Cheng San's Punggol South ward.

The Punggol Park area explains why "Kembangan" was attached to "Punggol".
As for the ward of Aljunied itself, it was dissolved, probably divided among the wards of Aljunied-Hougang, Paya Lebar, and Marine Parade GRC's Geylang Serai.

After 42 years, the ward of Aljunied had ceased to exist.
Finally, the ward of Changi-Simei was handed to East Coast GRC.

The redrawn Aljunied GRC for the 2001 election now comprised Aljunied-Kembangan, Kembangan-Punggol, Paya Lebar, Eunos, and Aljunied-Hougang, with an electorate of 125,115.
For the 2001 election, Aljunied GRC enjoyed another walkover, and Minister for Trade and Industry George Yeo took charge of Kembangan-Punggol.

Aljunied GRC had no Aljunied ward, but the place name
"Aljunied" was attached to two wards.
More changes in store for Aljunied GRC in 2006!

First, it swapped wards with Marine Parade GRC, taking in Serangoon, and giving away Aljunied-Kembangan, which was reorganised and renamed Kampong Ubi-Kembangan.

Meanwhile, Kembangan-Punggol was renamed Bedok Reservoir-Punggol.
Aljunied GRC of 1988 hardly overlaps Aljunied GRC of 2006!

(Left: 1988; right: 2006. Aljunied is in blue; Hougang and Potong Pasir are in red as reference points.)

Aljunied's original wards of 1988 - Aljunied, Kampong Ubi, and Kampong Kembangan - did not exist in name anymore.
In the 2006 election, the Workers' Party challenged the PAP in Aljunied GRC (electorate size - 145,141) for the first time.

George Yeo's team prevailed over Sylvia Lim's team, winning 56.1% of the vote.
In 2011, Aljunied GRC swapped wards for the last time.

It took in Marine Parade GRC's Kaki Bukit ward, while Aljunied-Hougang (formerly of Cheng San GRC, which had strongly supported the Workers' Party) was shifted to Ang Mo Kio GRC, taking on the odd name Ang Mo Kio-Hougang.
What happened next was history.

The Workers' Party challenged George Yeo's team again. This time, a team led by party chief Low Thia Khiang won, garnering 54.7% of the vote.

Low took over Yeo's seat in Bedok Reservoir-Punggol.
Since 2011, under Opposition rule, Aljunied GRC has hardly seen any significant boundary changes.

It still has the five wards of Bedok Reservoir-Punggol, Paya Lebar, Eunos, Serangoon, and Kaki Bukit.
While Aljunied GRC was formed in 1988, its five wards came about after that:

- Paya Lebar - joined for the 1991 election
- Eunos - joined 1997
- Bedok Reservoir-Punggol - created as Kembangan-Punggol for 2001
- Serangoon - joined 2006
- Kaki Bukit - joined 2011
This history explains why today, Aljunied GRC spreads from Serangoon Gardens to Tampines Avenue 10, from Punggol Park to Bedok Town Park, but is nowhere near Aljunied Road or Aljunied MRT Station. It doesn't even have a ward called Aljunied.
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