by Vincent Low
In his New Year message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced plans to mark the 200th anniversary of 1819, when Stamford Raffles founded the modern day Singapore.
Singapore marked 50 years of independence in 2015 but "the Singapore Story began way before 1965", he said. "We must understand truly how far back our history reaches, and how complex it is."
He justified the commemoration of the 200th anniversary as it was also done in 1969 for the 150th anniversary.
"We should commemorate this bicentennial appropriately, just as we marked the 150th anniversary in 1969. It is an important milestone for Singapore; an occasion for us to reflect on how our nation came into being, how we have come this far since, and how we can go forward together," he said.
This means, there will be big celebrations in Singapore in 2019, likely paving the way for General Election in late 2019 or 2020.
In 2015, the People's Action Party (PAP) government spent lavishly to celebrate SG50 for Singapore's 50 years of independence. Many goodies were announced for the electorate with the People's Association (PA) 's FY2015 expenditure raised substantially by a whopping 51.3% increase for grassroots activities and celebrations.
During the 2015 budget debate in March, opposition MP Yee Jenn Jong asked the PAP govt about the 51.3% jump to over $1 billion in PA's expenditure estimates compared to those of previous year.
At the time, Minister Lim Swee Say replied on behalf of PA, "The budget allocated to the PA reflects a higher level of commitment by the Government towards promoting social cohesion and racial harmony."
He said a large part (70.5% of the increase) was for "the development of facilities for our residents’ use". He added that part of the increase was also for "implementing the Pioneer Generation Ambassador programme" for PA staff and grassroots to reach out to the senior citizens, as well as "supporting the work of the grassroots organisations and Community Development Councils in assisting the needy and in building and bonding our multi-racial and multi-cultural communities".
Then after reaching the climax of celebrating Singapore's 50th anniversary in August 2015, the PAP govt suddenly announced that the general election to be held on 11 Sep 2015, about a month later.
Going by the events in 2015, it would not be too far out to predict that the PAP govt would spend substantially again for the 200th anniversary celebration in 2019 so as to keep Singaporeans happy before calling for the next GE thereafter.