Singapore — The coming General Election could be in early May, provided the Covid-19 situation stabilises, according to senior activists from the ruling People’s Action Party, speaking on condition of anonymity to The Straits Times (ST).
The announcement of changes to the country’s electoral boundaries on Friday has fuelled speculation that the elections will be held soon.
One of the activists said he had doubts the elections will be held by April. “We have to wait for the 30-day window that (National Development) Minister Lawrence Wong mentioned — it has to be safe enough for people to vote.”
Mr Wong, who is the co-chairman of the Covid-19 task force, had announced a month-long travel advisory on Sunday (March 15) which urged the public not to make non-essential trips overseas.
Therefore, the PAP activist said, the election could be scheduled for May. “(GE is) likely to be in May, as long as things stabilise. The PM is then likely to press the button (for us to go). We can’t say for sure this will happen, but this is what we are anticipating.”
Another senior activist agreed. “I believe that for all the things to happen, April is a little bit rushed. They haven’t announced the second stimulus package, and they still need to dissolve Parliament.”
The public, he added, would see that the Government had been working hard to mitigate the effects of the outbreak. “When people see results, with cases declining and things looking stable, it’ll have a feel-good effect — that the Government handled this well and can be trusted.”
The activists added that the ruling party feels it would be good to hold the GE earlier so that the focus can return to handling the outbreak and its many repercussions.
The second activist said: “People are worried about survival now — it’s not about the illness, but about the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and their jobs.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in a Facebook post that the GE “can only be called after the electoral registers are updated. This will take about a month”. So, the earliest possible date could be May.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock, leader of Progress Singapore Party, has warned in a video message that more than 2.6 million voters risk exposure to Covid-19 at the polls. He said: “There is this potential mass exposure to this virus. So holding a general election at this time should not be considered.”
On its part, the Singapore Democratic Party said that focusing on the GE could “take away valuable resources needed to combat the virus outbreak and jeopardise the public’s health and well-being”, and that the PAP should “refrain from such an irresponsible act”. Neither party currently has seats in Parliament.
And the Workers’ Party, which has won seats in recent elections, has urged the Government to “take caution and exercise judiciousness” in calling a GE. /TISG
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