Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing has said that the Elections Department (ELD) cannot “prematurely” announce the rules and regulations relating to the next General Election as these may be “overtaken by events”.
This was said at a media briefing on Saturday (30 May), where he noted that the ELD is fully aware of the competing needs.
“On one hand, ELD would like to make available the information to the parties and the candidates as early as possible for them to make the preparations…On the other hand, ELD has to work under the challenging constraint that there are many scenarios.”
“I’ve asked ELD to walk through the various scenarios and to see when possible we can share the rules and regulations with the parties and the candidates, to give them sufficient time, yet at the same time not have rules that may become invalid by the evolving situation,”
Mr Chan, who is also the People’s Action Party’s second assistant secretary-general and a possible Prime Minister candidate, said that the ELD must make sure that the measures announced are cognisant and in sync with the prevailing health situation based on when the election will be called by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“So this is the reason that ELD has to work through various scenarios to see how best to do this.”
Parties such as the Workers’ Party and Singapore Democratic Party have asked for clarity in the election campaign rules in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and better access to electorates in the upcoming GE in recent days.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had earlier said in an interview with CNA on 27 May, “I would say that, yes, elections are coming nearer by the day,” when asked if Singaporeans will have to wait until Phase 3 after Singapore exits the “circuit breaker period” for the General Election to be held.
“The sooner we get it done, 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,” said Mr Heng.
Singapore has been expecting for an early election this year after the announcement of the election boundaries review on 13 March, however, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner into the cogs of such a plan with the announcement of the Circuit Breaker measures on 3 April.
Now, the question that people have to ask is, if there are already rules and regulations firmed up for the election by ELD with consideration of the existing social-distancing measures, shouldn’t the it announce the existing form so that the parties can make their preparation for the worst case scenario?