Singapore’s Workers’ Party (WP) chief and Leader of the Opposition (LO) Pritam Singh took to Facebook on Thursday (8 October) to assure all voters that their votes has always been a secret.
“There is a very small section of voters who seem to think that their votes are not a secret. They point to their names being called out by election officials before being handed their ballot slips, series numbers on ballot slips etc. as reasons for their apprehension,” Mr Singh said.
He added, “But over the years, such individuals are fast dwindling in numbers”.
Mr Singh made this point following stories that surfaced after the recent GE2020 in which People’s Action Party (PAP) polling agents interrupting proceedings by asking Presiding Officers (POs) to repeat the names and serial numbers of voters so that they can mark voter attendance on their own registers.
In fact, this matter was highlighted by a WP polling agent in a blog post.
In the post, the LO also cited former WP chief Low Thia Khiang on how he would have dealt with such fears when residents or voters raise matters like this to him.
Mr Singh said that Mr Low would first reassure the resident that he or she is not so important to the Government for it to know who they voted for. The second thing that Mr Low will say to the resident is that Singapore’s international reputation would be ruined if such voting process was exposed.
“He would say something to the effect of – you are not so important to the Government that they want to know how you voted (only Mr Low can verbalise this reason matter-of-factly without sounding arrogant or dismissive!),” Mr Singh noted.
He continued, “Singapore’s international reputation and status as a trusted place to do business, our adherence to the rule of law etc. will be irreparably destroyed if the voting process was exposed as a sham.”
Register of electors left in ballot box
The opposition politician went on to point out that if anyone in the public still remain doubtful about whether their vote is a secret, he said that the “unusual episode involving a ballot box in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC should assuage you”.
For those who are unaware, the Elections Department (ELD) said recently in a press release that the list of electors in polling district PN23 of the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC who did not cast their votes in GE2020 will be released at a later date. This is because an election official at the Elias Park Primary School Counting Centre had accidentally left the copy of the register of electors into the ballot box, along with the counted ballot papers and other documents.
Subsequently, the ballot box was sealed and is now kept in the Supreme Court vault. The copy of the register of electors show the electors of that polling district who attended to cast their votes on Polling Day.
According to the Parliamentary Elections Act, all the sealed boxes that have counted ballot papers and other documents must be kept in safe custody, until it being destroyed at the end of six months after the poll. For the recent GE2020, the destruction date would be 21 January 2021.
The press release also stated that the President has directed the Returning Officer to retrieve, on or after 10 January 2021, but before the ballot boxes have to be destroyed, only the copy of the register of electors for Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC.
Commenting on this incident, Mr Singh said: “Even though the ballot box in question is going to be opened by order of the President, the process includes the opposition parties who contested in the ward, overseeing the exercise – in other words, it is an open process.”
“In about 3 months or so, the WP and all the political parties which contested GE2020 will be present to enter the Supreme Court vault to ensure no ballot boxes have been tampered with before escorting these boxes to the Tuas incineration plant,” he explained, reiterating that “your vote has always been a secret. So always make your vote count”.