What we keep hearing from the government is that South Korea successfully held its elections in April amidst the pandemic so it is not out of the ordinary for Singapore to have one as well.
Just two days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat repeated it like a mantra, saying “South Korea has done it and in fact, they had a record turnout.”
However, what has been left unsaid is that the South Korean opposition found it really tough campaigning under the cloud of the COVID-19 election.
Opposition politicians complained that with safe distancing measures, they could not physically engage with crowds and make themselves known. Campaign rules restricted them mostly to online campaigning and they had to resort to all sorts of antics to make videos that would grab the attention of voters.
One candidate even had to ride a horse through the streets of South Korea to reach out to voters. At least that was allowed. In this country, even one person holding a placard in public is deemed a public assembly.
What would a COVID-19 general election look like in Singapore? Only the government has an inkling at this point in time.
But if the South Korean elections are anything to go by, the opposition could find the going really tough.
If the campaign rules are unilaterally drawn up – like the redrawing of electoral boundaries – then the opposition has to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
The 15 April South Korean elections, by the way, resulted in a landslide victory for the ruling President Moon Jae-in government and his Democratic Party.
This must be a mouth-watering omen for the People’s Action Party. They must be salivating at the prospect of replicating such an outcome in Singapore.
The bottom line is, we had a 2017 presidential election for which not a single vote was cast, leading to the hashtag #notmypresident.
Are we heading for 2020 general election for which 2.6 million votes will be cast under controversial and cloudy circumstances that could spark the hashtag #notmygovernment?