Singapore—After speeches from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Sunday, November 10, at ruling People’s Action Party PAP65 Awards and Convention at the Singapore Expo which may well be the last time that PAP activists gather together before the upcoming General Election (GE), experts are saying that foremost on voters minds will most likely be domestic issues such as cost of living and the transition to the 4G (fourth generation) leadership, according to a report from The Straits Times (ST).
And unless the effect of foreign issues is driven home with voters, these experts say that domestic challenges are likely to be considered as the most significant.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister had called the upcoming GE a crucial one in the light of the country’s future and highlighted Singapore’s vulnerabilities in an uncertain global atmosphere.
This is not new, according to analysts, noting that PAP has emphasized in the past how important a stable government is in times of instability.
The ST report quotes Zulkifli Baharudin, a political observer and former Nominated Member of Parliament, as saying, “The challenge for the PAP is to frame the issues in a way that cuts across different demographics and persuades voters to give them a strong mandate to make these decisions.”
PM Lee had talked about the ongoing trade tensions between the two biggest economies in the world today—China and the United States —which has had an effect on the economy of trade-reliant Singapore.
While warning of potential crises can be effective, it can also lead to the perception from some voters of merely rousing and spreading fear, according to an associate lecturer at SIM Global Education, Dr Felix Tan.
Singapore country director at political consultancy Vriens & Partners, Leonard Lim said you get voters who may not be as taken in by the need for stability and continuity since they were “already born into an affluent Singapore”.
One thing that many of the observers agreed on, however, is that the 4G team has their work ahead cut out for them, in the light of present and possible future conditions.
Many voters, therefore, will be mindful of political succession.
Mr Lim mentioned that DPM Heng has not had much time to exercise leadership, and a research fellow at the NUS Institute of South Asian Studies, Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, said that PAP will feel the blow if the 4G does not get a firm mandate at the next GE, although they will still be able to run the country.
But at the top of of most people’s minds are everyday concerns such as the cost of living and what the present administration has done concerning these issues.
Mr Zulkifli said that Singaporeans will “vote with their stomachs”, to which Mr Lim agrees, saying that the efficiency of public transport and the affordability of housing were important issues.
He said, “They will care about education, healthcare, housing and so on. The majority don’t bother as much with the geopolitical issues.”