Hot on the heels of the recent general election which saw the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) win a super majority in Parliament, Bloomberg has reported that Singapore has slumped into a recession with a record 41.2% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plunge.
Given that this is a huge drop, one has to wonder if this was the reason why the PAP was pushing for a general election despite opposition parties calling for such election to have been postponed given the global COVID-19 pandemic?
Did the PAP push ahead with the general elections despite the clear pandemic risks because it feared that an economic downturn would reduce its vote share?
Before the general election date was announced, there were clear indicators that a general election was about to take place. Yet, the PAP government dallied in announcing a date. At that time people had speculated that the PAP was well aware of the date of the general election but was choosing not to reveal the date so as to reap a “timing ” advantage. Now that it has been reported that our economic situation seems dire, it could well mean that the PAP was timing the general election before such dismal economic contractions hit the news? In other words, did the PAP knowingly risk the lives of the voting public to insist on a general election just to ensure that it could secure a super majority ahead of reports of upcoming economic slumps hitting global headlines?
Does this mean that the PAP was asking for a mandate under false pretences?
Knowing what we know now about the dismal state of the economy, does this downplay the legitimacy of the PAP’s mandate? Was the PAP insisting on a general election despite the global pandemic because it knew that the economy was about to significantly contract and therefore wanted to secure vote share before such contraction hits the headlines? Does this mean that the PAP were of the view that had the general elections been delayed, that it would lead to a worse result for them?
If so, this sounds more like cheap power grabbing tactics than the long term planning the PAP has prided itself on.The PAP has banged on about its outstanding reserves and foresight. Yet, if the above questions are answered in the affirmative, it would point to a government that is much more reactionary than proactive.
Given that the PAP had control over when the general election was to be held and could easily have amended the Constitution to postpone such election, has the PAP cheated the voters of their votes by calling elections before news of economic slumps start to dominate global headlines?
Was the PAP counting on the short memory of the electorate? By buying another five years (or so) of absolute power, is the PAP hoping that it would be able to even out the economy by 2025 and the public would forgive them?
Looking at the global trajectory, it would appear that Singapore’s economy will continue to tank. The PAP may have bought itself another five years but is five years enough time to shore up the economy?
If not, voters will do well to remember that the PAP selfishly pushed on with an election that alternative parties had disagreed with to get its “blank cheque” mandate on the basis of stablising the country and its economy. If the PAP fails to do this, it would have knowingly put voters at risk for no discernible benefit.