On Monday (16 March), Mr Steve Chia, Secretary General of Singapore People’s Party (SPP) and Mr Jose Raymond, Chairman of the party, answered several questions by The Online Citizen regarding the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report (EBRC) and timing of the upcoming General Elections (GE).
Mr Chia made it clear in his response that SPP does not expect the GE to be held during this troubling times where the country is experiencing the COVID-19 crisis.
“We don’t like and we don’t hope for the elections to be called during this crisis time. It is not a good time for politicking, for fighting for political votes,” said Mr Chia.
Mr Chia intimated that the government should have a united position to fight off the COVID-19 virus issue before an election is called. He added that, “We have until next year to decide.”
However, the SPP Secretary General, was also apprehensive with the release of the electoral report and the timing of Prime Minister Lee’s statement on Facebook last Saturday. To Mr Chia, it seems likely the ruling party is geared towards calling for an early election very soon.
Mr Chia was also quick to add that the People’s Action Party (PAP) is constantly trying gain an advantage during turbulent times like this. To him, the opposition parties would be severely handicapped in their campaigning and in passing their message to the voters.
“This is because the key thing that we rely on is rallies. And now with social distancing and limitation on rallies, we have to think how are we going to bring our message across,” he said.
When asked if SPP would see itself being disadvantaged if the GE is to be held during this period, Mr Chia explains that, “I can only say for SPP, we have walked the ground in Bishan Toa Payoh, Potong Pasir, Mountbatten.” and that the party will still contest with a four plus one team for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC estate after it has been split into a four men team and a SMC.
SPP had earlier contested in Potong Pasir SMC, Mountbatten SMC, Hong Kah SMC and Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC in the GE2015.
Earlier this week, it was announced in the EBRC that Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC have been reduced from five to four MPs for the next general election, with a new single member constituency, Marymount, carved out from Bishan North.
Holding GE now will favour PAP
Meanwhile, Mr Raymond remarked that having the GE during a time of crisis will be in favour of the incumbent.
“It’s a very volatile and uncertain time, and given the global pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainties playing in the minds of people. To call an election now at this period, obviously will work in the favour of the incumbent. But be that as it may, I think it is important for us to make sure that we are ready, and to be and to have for sure how and the procedures in which the elections and the campaigning is going to be held,” he said.
As such, he pointed out that political parties would have to look out for the rules and regulations that will be introduced by the Election Department, and it would influence the way how they would carry out their election campaigning and rallying.
On Saturday (14 March), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared a Facebook post which alluded that the General Elections must take place before 21 April 2021 and that GE can only be called after the electoral registers are updated.
While he said that this is expected to take approximately up to a month, it could be earlier and even if so it would still crippling the chances of the opposition with the current precautionary measures for social gatherings.
At the end of his Facebook post, PM Lee assured Singaporeans that if at all there were to hold elections before COVID-19 pandemic is over, they would be taking necessary precautions to ensure all parties can campaign effectively and people can vote safely.