Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) and Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong took to his Facebook on Wednesday (10 June) saying that having Singaporeans to unite as one should not only be at the convenience of the ruling party, adding that he hopes to see a “more constructive political system” in the next five to 10 years.
Mr Yee was responding to a remark made by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat during a media interview on Monday (8 June).
Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, told The Straits Times and The Business Times that the coming General Election (GE) will chart the course Singapore takes not just for the next three to six months, but for at least the next five to 10 years.
He also said that he hopes Singaporeans will focus on “how do we stay together as one people” beyond party politics and elections.
To this, Mr Yee remarked, “I hope so too. Long before I entered politics, as an ordinary Singaporean, the upgrading for votes, gerrymandering, GRC system were some issues that irked me enough to stop supporting the ruling party.”
“The PE 2017 that never happened has made many Singaporeans upset,” he added.
In his Facebook post, the WP politician also listed some things that Singaporeans can expect within the next five to 10 years.
Mr Yee pointed out that Singaporeans will expect to see the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates increase, adding that this could happen as early as 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be delayed to no later than 2025.
He went on to caution that Singapore’s population may increase to 6.9 million within ten years, in line with the Population White Paper (PWP) that was released by the Government in January 2013 to address the country’s demographic challenges.
In the White Paper, the Government projected that the country’s total population may reach between 6.5 million and 6.9 million by 2030.
Mr Yee also reminded that the distance-based Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) 2.0 will be introduced in the coming years.
Singapore is the first city in the world to implement the ERP system, where its purpose is to manage road congestion in Singapore. The ERP charges on motorists and commuters depend on the type of vehicle and its time of entering the ERP gantry. As such, the bigger the vehicle it is, the more people need to pay, while charges will be varied every half hour during the peak of congestion.
Elections are coming nearer by day, says DPM Heng; ELD released contingency plans for safety measures during GE
While Singapore’s next GE has to be conducted before 14 April 2021, DPM Heng on 27 May stated that the elections are “coming nearer by the day”.
He was responding to a media question on whether the next GE will be held after the start of Phase 3 of Singapore’s exit strategy from the circuit breaker.
“I would say that, yes, elections are coming nearer by the day,” he noted.
He went on to say, “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.”
Following Mr Heng’s remark, opposition parties, such as The Workers’ Party (WP), has called for the clarity in the election campaign rules and fair access to electorate in coming GE in the wake of the ongoing social-distancing measures for COVID-19.
The Party referred to the vague and unspecific comments by several Ministers since March about modifying the campaign methods, saying, “However, despite the Party’s calls, there has been no definitive announcement by the Elections Department on these anticipated changes.”
It also voiced concern on how political parties will risk squandering resources and expenditures with uncertainty as to what mode of campaigning will or will not be allowed.
Recently, the Elections Department (ELD) has also released some information of its contingency plans for safety measures for Nomination and Polling proceedings at the next GE, so that the next GE can be conducted safely should it be held amid the COVID-19 situation.
ELD stated that guidelines for campaigning (e.g. whether physical rallies, walkabouts, and house-to-house visits can continue) will take guidance from prevailing guidelines of the Ministry of Health (MOH) on safe distancing and safe management.
As these activities involve large group gatherings, ELD asserted that the guidelines will depend on the COVID-19 situation at the time and, therefore, will be shared at a later date.