The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is planning to contest at least seven SMCs and eight GRCs in the next election after a party meeting was held last night (18 March)
An earlier report by the Straits Times quoted Mr Leong Mun Wai, PSP’s assistant secretary-general, saying that the party has identified 44 candidates, with another 13 in reserve, and is seeking to make its presence felt on its first electoral outing.
“We intend to field a sizeable contingent, but of course, the final outcome will depend on discussions with all the other parties. We are mindful that we are the newest party, so we seek the cooperation of all the other parties to come to an amicable arrangement,” said Mr Leong.
PSP’s planned 15 constituencies:
- Jurong GRC
- West Coast GRC
- Chua Chu Kang GRC
- Tanjong Pagar GRC
- Jalan Besar GRC
- Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
- Nee Soon GRC
- Sembawang GRC
- Hong Kah North SMC
- Yuhua SMC
- Pioneer SMC
- Radin Mas SMC
- Kebun Baru SMC
- Marymount SMC
- Yio Chu Kang SMC
Mr Leong confirms with TOC on what was reported by Straits Times but noted that it is not 100% confirmed if Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the party’s founding Secretary-General, will be contesting in the West Coast GRC in the upcoming election as Dr Tan will still have to make his decision based on the residents’ support and reaction.
Dr Tan, who was a former People’s Action Party, Member of Parliament and Central Executive Committee (CEC) member, had won and defended the former Ayer Rajah SMC for 26 years before it was absorbed into West Coast GRC.
Back in GE2015, all wards were contested by political parties with no walkovers.
- West Coast GRC and Radin Mas SMC were contested by Reform Party which is headed by Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam.
- Jurong GRC and Tanjong Pagar GRC were contested by Singaporeans First Party headed by Mr Tan Jee Say.
- Chua Chu Kang GRC was contested by People’s Power Party headed by Mr Goh Meng Seng.
- Jalan Beser GRC and Nee Soon GRC were contested by Workers’ Party headed by Mr Pritam Singh.
- Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Hong Kah North SMC were contested by Singapore People’s Party now headed by Mr Steve Chia.
- Sembawang GRC and Pioneer SMC were contested by National Solidarity Party headed by Sebastian Teo.
- Yuhua SMC was contested by Singapore Democratic Party headed by Dr Chee Soon Juan.
The only party that is not affected by PSP’s plan is the Singapore Democratic Alliance headed by Mr Desmond Lim which contested Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
This means that PSP will have to convince the parties which had contested in the GE2015 to give way or risk a three-corner fight with the incumbent party and the other opposition party.
Mr Leong said to TOC that the party will try its best to avoid any three-corner fights with other opposition parties and will speak with the parties and work with them to achieve the common objective.
Elections could be called very soon despite COVID-19 situation
On 13 March, the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) released its report on the revised electoral map. This led to speculation on the ground that the next general election (GE) will be called very soon. At the latest, it has to be held by 15 April 2021.
Historically, the GE is usually held about two months after the EBRC report is released. That’s what happened in the last three elections in 2015, 2011, and 2006. In 2001, the report was released on 17 October 2001 and elections were held less than a month later on 2 November 2001.
Another indication that the GE might be held in May is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook post on Saturday (14 March) in which he said that the GE can only be called after the electoral registers have been updated, which can take up to a month. Only after that can parliament be dissolved followed by the issuance of the writ of election.
PM Lee also wrote:
“… We have two choices. Either hope and pray that things will stabilise before the end of the term so that we can hold elections under more normal circumstances – but we have no certainty of that.
Or else call elections early, knowing that we are going into a hurricane, to elect a new government with a fresh mandate and a full term ahead of it, which can work with Singaporeans on the critical tasks at hand…”
Given the COVID-19 situation, concerns have been raised about holding elections at this time given that the campaign period usually involved large rallies and group activities.
When asked about this, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said at a Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) press conference on Sunday (15 March) that in terms of organising events, such as election rallies, organisers must “take guidance from the advisories we have put out, or adjust their event formats in line with the advisories, in order to ensure that they are safe”.
“If the prime minister decides (to hold an election), given the prevailing guidance on events, advisories and social distancing, then I’m sure (Event) organisers will have to make adjustments accordingly,” he explained.
Mr Wong also said that some flexibility will be given to the crowd limit for events. For example, if the event is held at large venues where people are given enough space to keep a distance with each other, then that event can have a bigger audience.
Later on Wednesday (18 March), Mr Wong said in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia that the elections will “very likely” happen while in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. He explained that a number of medical experts have revealed that the virus may not go away any time soon, meaning that the world’s fight against the deadly novel coronavirus could “drag on for a year and beyond a year.”
“So, whatever the timing of the election, because it has to be held by April 2021, it is very likely that it will have to be held when COVID-19 is still circulating in our midst—that’s the reality,” said the Minister, who is also Singapore’s second finance minister and co-chairs a multi-ministry task force to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in Singapore.