Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that our economy faces long-term challenges that will need to be dealt with over the course of the next five to 10 years. He linked the economic challenges with the general elections by saying that the sooner the general elections are held, “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 entire world is reeling from the economic fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore is no exception. On top of the economic repercussions, we are still fighting the actual pandemic given that our infection numbers remain high. With this in mind, doesn’t it make more sense to postpone the general elections and deal with the more pressing issue of getting the coronavirus under control first?
Organising a general election requires logistical planning and resources. As the virus still rages, why not divert resources where most needed instead of splitting focal points between pandemic fighting and electioneering?
Secondly, why is the Government conflating the general elections with the pandemic? How will holding an election now help with fighting the virus and stemming the economic fallout? In the first place, the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) is probably going to win the majority anyway. The only issue is whether or not they would lose a few seats to the opposition parties.
Noting this landscape, is there a genuine concern that a government with a greater degree of varied representation would affect pandemic fighting efforts or economic planning? Flowing from this reasoning, how will getting the election quickly done with help with either the virus or the economic situation?
Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean had earlier said that elections needed to be held in order to comply with the Constitution. However, that line of reasoning is also flawed given that the Constitution has already been amended so many times!
Why is the PAP so hell bent on holding the general election so quickly?
There has been much criticism levelled at the Government for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. From its inaction when dormitory related infections were first made public in February to the “wear mask or don’t wear mask” U-turn, the Government has been labelled as having “dropped the ball“.
Not to mention the international media scrutiny that has exposed how our migrant workers are made to live to the entire world and our very public fall from “gold standard” in virus containment. General elections are a time where voters get to hold their government to account. Should we not get a chance to dissect how our Government has dealt with this pandemic before going to the polls?
Minister for National Development and Second Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong who is also co chair of the COVID-19 taskforce has promised a “comprehensive review” of how the virus was handled when the “timing is right”. When is the “right” time? Will this promised review be held before this looming general election?
Lastly, Heng is hinting that he already knows when the general elections will be held. If he knows, why don’t we? Why is he keeping us in suspense? Is he going to suddenly drop the date on us – giving off the impression that he is counting on the element of surprise to limit both the opposition’s chance to campaign and the voter’s chance to accurately assess the situation and options? If so, is this fair to both voters and opposition contestants?