Just a few days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Kiat had said that 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”. He hinted that the general elections are imminent when he said “I would say that, yes, elections are coming nearer by the day.”
Almost simultaneously, Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong, who is also co-chair of the multi ministry task force for tackling COVID-19 also announced that Singapore would be moving into Phase Two of the country’s COVID-19 strategy where most of the economy would be reopened. Many have raised questions in relation to the timing of the reopening given that it appears to be sooner than the end of June which was what was previously anticipated.
Virtually concurrently, an article was also published in the mainstream media, suggesting that the general elections are likely to be held in July if the COVID-19 situation improves.
Looking at the timing of these events, could it be arguably possible that the earlier reopening of the country would facilitate the holding of the general elections? And, if so, do voters agree with this?
Let’s bear in mind that as of 29 May, there are 611 new cases, 9 of which are within the community (outside of the dormitories). This is not an improvement from the previous day which can indicate that it is far too soon to think of Phase Two. We should also note that Heng Swee Keat’s rationale for holding the general elections sooner rather than later does not appear to be wholly convincing.
The government has been criticised for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on a number of fronts. There is the rampant migrant worker infection due in part to the government not having taken action earlier even though reports of infections had surfaced as early as February. There is also the matter of how our government has enabled our migrant workers to be housed in such a cramped manner through permissive regulations. Not to mention how this has captured the attention of the international media!
Then, there is also the “wear mask or don’t wear mask” yo-yo and the “who should pay for migrant worker testing U turns”. Overall, it would appear that questions are being asked of the government’s apparently reactive instead of proactive measures.
Yet, even as the country battles its worst ever disaster, the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) led government appears hell bent on having their general elections.
Instead of focusing all attention on combating the virus, the PAP has resolutely clung on to wanting to hold the general elections as well. This can be inferred from the government’s stance not to raise DORSCON level to Code RED despite the severe social distancing measures being put in place after the Circuit Breaker (aka lock down) was announced in April.
Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean even said that the general election had to be held to comply with the Constitution — never mind that the Constitution has been amended so many times already!
Voters must ask themselves if they are happy with a government that may prioritise its general election to reap political benefits over human health. Voters must further consider if they are satisfied with a government that may use its knowledge of when the general elections are going to be held to its unfair advantage.