Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called for the next general election (GE), noting that by holding the GE now it will “clear the decks” and give the new Government a “fresh five-year mandate”, considering that the current COVID-19 situation is “relatively stable”.
In a televised address on Tuesday (23 June), Mr Lee said that he has advised President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament and issue the Writ of Election – which will specify the date of the election. The dissolution of Parliament was announced at 4.20 pm today.
Holding an election now – when the coronavirus crisis is “relatively stable” – will clear the decks and give the new Government a fresh five-year mandate to focus on the national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make, said the Prime Minister.
“The alternative is to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this Government’s term must end next April,” he added.
The upcoming GE will be different than the previous elections that Singapore has experienced, not only because of the special arrangements to deal with COVID-19 but the gravity of the situation and the issues at stake, said the Prime Minister.
Mr Lee noted that he had to be certain that voters can vote safely and political parties can campaign effectively before proceeding with the decision.
“After studying the issues, I am satisfied that both of these can be done,” he said.
According to Mr Lee, Singapore is not the first to hold an election during the COVID-19 pandemic as other countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries have done so as well.
“With our arrangements and precautions in place, I am confident we can hold a proper and safe election,” he asserted.
The Prime Minister cautioned that Singapore must be psychologically prepared for more challenges in fights against the pandemic, adding that the nation has yet to face the full economic fallout from the crisis.
He explained that Singapore also faces external uncertainties such as US-China tensions, the US presidential elections, border clashes between China and India, and political developments in Southeast Asia.
“We need a capable Government, with the strong backing of the people, to do all that needs to be done on your behalf, and see us through the tumultuous times,” Mr Lee said.
The Government will continue to govern during the GE period
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister asserted that the current Government will continue to govern during the election period. As such, the Cabinet will still be in charge despite the fact Parliament has been dissolved and the public service will continue to operate as it does in every GE.
Mr Lee reassured the public that the ministerial taskforce which is leading the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic will also continue its work, adding that businesses, workers and families will receive help and support.
“The government that you elect will have critical decisions to make. These decisions will impact your lives and livelihoods, and shape Singapore for many years to come, far beyond the five-year term of the next government.
“I have every confidence that you will think carefully, and vote wisely, to secure our lives, our jobs, and our future,” he remarked.