All the signs are pointing to a July general election. The People’s Action Party is showing real urgency by throwing punches that are aimed at knocking down the opposition.
First punch: The PAP sees the timing as right. It’s now or never. COVID-19 circuit breaker measures have been eased and the PAP is saying let’s rally together, give us a strong mandate so we can continue to fight this thing together.
It’s an unmistakable election rallying cry, it’s what the PAP is best at. Amidst a pandemic, it carries even more sting because the PAP knows that Singaporeans are shaken and their fears and insecurities can be exploited.
Second punch: All the goodies and sweeteners are coming thick and fast. More money for Singaporeans will be credited this month. All kinds of schemes are being rolled out now to help the poor and marginalised, to save jobs and create jobs.
The PAP is signalling that it is doing everything within its power to help ease the pain. Now that Singaporeans have some cash coming in, they feel that the PAP sympathises with their plight. The PAP all of a sudden becomes Santa Claus and Robin Hood rolled in one.
Of course, people think short term, they think of here and now and not what happens after the elections.
Third punch: In a COVID-19 election, the rules of campaigning will be distinctly different. How different nobody knows because although the opposition has been calling for clarity on GE campaigning rules, the PAP has not shown its hand.
In a Facebook post earlier this week titled “Campaign rules need to be out way before writ of election,” Lee Hsien Yang warned that “all political parties are already prepared for e-campaigning, but you never know when a new curveball would be thrown given the recent advisories on cybersecurity and foreign interference.”
He also cautioned that “for the first time, the political parties will also be campaigning in a Pofma environment.”
When the campaigning rules are finally made known, there could well be shocks for the opposition and they would have very little time to make adjustments. This could be the biggest blow of all.
Given the one-two-three punch from the PAP, can the opposition put up a creditable fight?
Will Singaporeans give the underdogs a chance, seeing that they are being pummelled in a contest that is tilted so much in favour of one side?