New measures to tackle virus spread is not consistent with going ahead with a General Election

New measures to tackle virus spread is not consistent with going ahead with a General Election

Authorities have issued a whole host of new regulations to enforce social distancing amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 . On top of that, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has also announced that its schools will implement one day of Home-Based Learning (HBL) once a week in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

I applaud all of these measures as sensible means to limit social interaction and curb the spread of this disease. These measures give a clear indication that the Singapore government is serious about tackling the spread of the coronavirus. Because of how decisive the government has, up to now, been, its seeming decision to still go ahead with the General Election imminently appears contradictory.

General Elections are largely sustained public events. There will still be walkabouts, leafleting and meet and greets even if rallies are cancelled. This completely goes against the ethos of social distancing and will in fact contravene its own new regulations. How does this marry up?

In light of news that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now also tested positive for COVID-19, shouldn’t our politicians take greater care to make sure that they do not fall prey to this indiscriminate virus? In times such as these, leadership is vital and the last thing we need is for any of our leaders to test positive! In light of this, it would seem absolutely prudent to postpone the General Election until the whole virus is under control.

National Development Minister, who is leading the fight against the corona virus, Lawrence Wong has appeared teary eyed as he paid tribute to the front line medical staff. This indicates that our medical teams are working hard on our behalf. It also shows that Wong is himself working round the clock in this stressful time. Surely in light of these extraneous circumstances, it would be more prudent for the entire government to focus on tackling the virus by supporting Wong and his team instead of also trying to organise an election?

In times of crises, a government’s ability to prioritise is crucial. It would be reassuring to citizens if the government could conclusively put aside the election for now and focus solely and single mindedly on getting the virus under control. A number of high profile people ranging from celebrities to royalty have  already tested positive for COVID-19. Imagine if people went out to vote and ended up catching the virus! This is not the legacy that the government would want and would in fact undo all of the good work it has hitherto done.

Besides, why is there an urgent rush to have a General Election anyway? We have a comfortable People’s Action Party (PAP) majority with 69.9 per cent vote in 2015 and there are no indications that this would change since the ruling party is said to be doing such a good job.

While Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has suggested that it was the Constitution that was issue, it is not as if Parliament cannot vote to amend the Constitution? There are certainly precedents for amendments throughout the Constitution’s existence and no apparent good reason for why it cannot be postponed.

First things first – lets focus on eradicating this virus before organising a public event such as a General Election! The government has to lead by example. It can’t be punishing people for not social distancing if it is itself organising a public event!

Furthermore, pushing a General Election to be held under the new measures will mean that it cannot be deemed a real General Election as candidates are not given fair opportunities to canvas for votes from the citizens, which goes against the idea of a fresh mandate from the people.

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