PAP’s eagerness for a general election during global pandemic may create unhelpful speculation for the government

The COVID-19 spread in Singapore appears to be on the up with reports that an additional 42 cases have been reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and a new cluster has emerged in Yishun. Of these new cases, 18 are local with no recent travel history which could indicate the possibility of a community spread.

On top of this, the family of the third COVID-19 fatality has urged all Singaporeans to be socially responsible by saying: “Our dad did not travel to affected countries or clusters. How he was infected, is still a mystery to my family. Let us remember Daddy Chung by being socially responsible. Another loss due to socially irresponsible behaviour can be avoided! Let us do our part!”

These two reports flag two important issues.

Firstly, it is eminently clear that the spread of the Corona Virus is still not under control. Secondly, it highlights that the mystery behind how the disease is being spread among the community has not yet fully been solved. At the risk of flogging a dead horse, I really have to question why the government appears to still be pushing ahead with a general election? 

I have no doubt that the government is working hard to contain this disease and to look after Singaporeans. Compared to the rest of the world, Singapore has hitherto done a commendable job. With this in mind, it is hard not be suspicious of why the government wants to go ahead with the general elections despite the trying times. It goes against every measure that the government has so far implemented!

I do not want to be suspicious but given that a general election does not stack up with the exhortations for social distancing, it becomes increasingly difficult not to speculate (even if such speculations may prove inaccurate later down the line). Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has tried to explain why pushing ahead with a general election is necessary because not to do so will contravene the Constitution but given that the Constitution has been amended numerous times, this explanation is not altogether convincing.

As Dr Tan Cheng Bock has said: “We are now talking about life and death. Real lives are at stake . We must put all our energies and resources to fight COVID-19. The GE can wait.”

Let me reiterate that the Singapore government has so far done a fantastic job. That said, it is not the time to be complacent and go ahead with a general election that can be postponed. Going ahead with a general election which can be postponed could lead the public to question the motivations of the government.

It could also cause people to wonder why there is such a rush to hold an election. Is there something else that we don’t know? While this may well not be the case, pushing ahead with a general election in a time of a global pandemic could well create unhelpful speculation.


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