Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong has said that the government will “comprehensively review “the COVID-19 pandemic and its overall response to it when “the timing is right”.
He did not think that the review process should begin now as “we are still in the heat of battle”. Wong was of the opinion that the government should remain focused for now on the “urgent priorities” of bringing the outbreak under control on the two fronts – in the community and in the migrant worker dormitories to enable Singapore to gradually ease it self out of the Circuit Breaker (CB) measures.
In light of Wong’s statements, where does the government stand on the issue of the general election?
Up till now, the government has not officially postponed the general elections and the public may still think that it is just round the corner. If the government should remain focused on the “urgent priorities” of combating the virus in his own words, why not just outright postpone the general election?
As recent as the 9th of April, this publication reported that it had received a tip off with regards to logistics being put in place for an upcoming election.
While this has lent credence to the belief that the government will be going ahead with the general election imminently despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Elections Department (ELD) has remained silent when questioned by this publication.
The question of whether or not there is a general election looming still remains very much up in the air where voters are concerned.
On the 29th of April, this publication called for a public inquiry to be held in relation to how the COVID-19 outbreak was dealt with after the pandemic comes under control and further, that such public inquiry takes place BEFORE any general election to ensure that the public is able to make a fair and informed choice.
Now that Wong has confirmed that there will be a review, the question still remains as to whether or not such review will take place BEFORE any general election. When Wong says “when the timing is right” does he mean when the pandemic is over or does he mean when it is right for the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) led government?
Also, what form will such a review take? Will it be private and behind closed doors or a public one where there is absolute transparency, accountability and openness? A private review where the independent media have limited access will be pointless because it does not allow for objective transparency the way a public review would.
Besides, who will be convening the review? Who chooses the assessor? If it simply a case of the PAP dominated government reviewing itself, what would be the point?