The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) issued a statement on Monday (8 June), highlighting the intention of the People’s Action Party (PAP) to tilt the General Election (GE) in its favour as much as it can.
This statement follows the announcement by the Elections Department (ELD) on Sunday (7 June) that campaigning guidelines will have to wait, possibly until the Parliament is dissolved.
The SDP wrote, “The fact that it cannot even release the rules for campaigning because they may be ‘overtaken by events’ is clear demonstration that the COVID-19 spread is still very much not under control.”
The Party added that the “obscene rush” to call for a GE in light of the COVID-19 pandemic shows the PAP’s blatant disregard for the safety and public health of Singaporeans “in favour of its own political interests”.
The SDP went on to say that the ruling party has already started its campaigning even during the circuit breaker period, given that several of its Members of Parliament (MPs) have been engaging in walkabouts and various other political outreaching efforts.
“PM Lee and other ministers are also making political speeches this week and next,” it added.
Noting that the elections in Singapore have always provided the PAP an edge with maximum exposure as opposed to the opposition’s minimum reach to the electorate, the SDP stated that the upcoming GE – which is widely predicted to be held in July – will only make the gap “even wider”.
To remedy such an unfair process, the Party calls for the following measures:
- Extend the period between the issuing of the Writ of Election and Nomination Day from five to ten days to allow parties to organise our campaigns and make the necessary logistical preparations including safety equipment for volunteers and polling agents. This is especially important if the ELD only announces the election rules following the issuance of the Writ.
- Provide 21 days for the official campaign period instead of the current nine. This will enable weighty issues that confront our nation to be properly canvassed and debated on air and in print (see points 3, 4, 5 below).
- Give all parties access to the Mediacorp TV channels every night, over and above the traditional political broadcasts.
- Provide all parties access to radio programmes every day.
- Reserve column space in newspapers for parties to publish our manifestos as well as discuss our ideas/proposals.
- Allow parties to address residents at food centres, void decks and common areas subject, of course, to safety social distancing rules.
“This election, quite unlike others in the past, will require Singaporeans to be even more actively and intensely engaged. To this end, nothing short of an open and meaningful electoral process will do,” the SDP remarked.
Hence, the Party noted that the aforementioned proposals will warrant the conduct of an impartial election, adding that “to do otherwise risks the PAP being accused of robbing the people of a meaningful exercise to choose those who would govern them”.
“There is nothing worse than a nation questioning the mandate of those who claim power in such a momentous period,” the SDP concluded.