by Teo Soh Lung
I have criticised leaders who hint or threaten to hold a general election in the storm of this COVID-19 pandemic. Let me explain why.
The slightest hint of an early election sends panic signals to all opposition parties. Ever since the publication of the electoral map and the Prime Minister’s Facebook post five days ago (14 March), they have been issuing statements and trying to prepare for the election!
Should they start house to house visits? Should they sell their newsletters at the market place? Should they gather their volunteers to discuss how to conduct their campaigns?
These are normal activities at ordinary times. But in these days of the global pandemic, they are hazardous and can be viewed as irresponsible. Bear in mind that even churches and mosques have cancelled their worship services.
There are thousands and one things for the opposition parties to attend to when a general election rears its head. The People’s Action Party (PAP) on the other hand are ready at all times and can carry out their threats at any time. They have the mainstream media as their mouthpiece. They have the POFMA office to issue orders and notices at the appearance of the slightest errors. They have the law enforcement agencies to harass and hound the few brave activists and minuscule alternative news sites.
These are invaluable advantages the PAP have and which Singaporeans know and acknowledge. The opposition parties have none of these. They would be thankful if the mainstream media do not tarnish their good names.
So is it right for leaders to hint and threaten to hold a general election in these dangerous times? Is it right for such leaders to add to the burden of the task force trying so hard to contain the disease which keeps increasing every day by holding a general election soon? The number of new COVID-19 cases is reported to be 43 yesterday.
Some bloggers think that if a general election is held soon, the PAP will win with a huge majority because of the good work done by Minister Lawrence Wong and his team. At first thought, this prediction appears reasonable. But if one thinks more deeply, such an opinion really undermines the intelligence and civic mindedness of Singaporeans.
Singaporeans are responsible people. Singaporeans know the danger of spreading the disease in crowds at election rallies. Singaporeans know that to call a general election soon is simply playing with fire. So do not undermine the intelligence of Singaporeans and their sense of fairness. It is more than likely that they will vote for the opposition should a general election be called within the next two months. It will be the natural reaction to the irresponsibility of leaders who dare to call one.