After Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced his fourth budget, he went on TV last night to call for the general election to be held soon.
His reason was that “the earlier we can rally everybody together to deal with these very significant challenges ahead, and also to deal with these very significant uncertainties in the months and years ahead,” the better it would be.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Facebook to remind Singaporeans that when the British pulled out of Singapore barely two years after independence, “our founding fathers were determined to secure the lives and livelihoods of our people.” He asked Singaporeans for “that same conviction today, as we deal with the crisis of our generation.”
While the PM evokes the sacrifices and conviction of his father’s generation, the DPM is evoking the need for a mandate to deal with the challenges ahead.
Different strokes but both men use the budgets as an anchor to make their case.
This will be their election ploy – using the handouts, the budgets as a vote clincher, while rallying the people for a common fight and evoking the name and memory of Lee Kuan Yew and his comrades for allegiance and support.
If Heng’s budgets come across as a rallying election ploy, it’s because they indeed are. They even have the tendency to be named after Singapore’s warships. So far, we have had four budgets – Utility Budget, Resilience Budget, Solidarity Budget and Fortitude Budget.
If there is a fifth budget, just turn to any of the other warships for a name – Indomitable, Dauntless and Fearless are all in the running.
The opposition and some Singaporeans may protest all they want about a pandemic general election. But as far as the government is concerned, in crisis, there is opportunity so why not strike while the iron is hot.
It’s interesting that while the PM and DPM evoked the founding fathers and the need to rally together, neither of them cared to remind Singaporeans that the government has done a good job of fighting COVID-19. This will apparently not be part of their election strategy because even they know that it’s impossible to turn failure into success.