Singapore — Some political analysts believe the next General Election will be held in July if the Covid-19 situation improves, following a hint from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat that polls may be around the corner.
On Wednesday (May 27), Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, told CNA that the earlier the GE is held, “the earlier we can rally everybody together to deal with these very significant challenges ahead, and also to deal with these very significant uncertainties in the months and years ahead”.
When asked whether the people will have to wait for Singapore to fully re-open before going to the polls, he said: “The sooner that we can deal with the longer term challenges, the better Singaporeans will emerge out of this, and Singapore will emerge stronger. So I would say that, yes, elections are coming nearer by the day, and you have to be prepared for it.”
Singapore has been under a circuit breaker to prevent the spread of Covid-19 for the past two months. As the nation prepares to relax the circuit breaker in phases from June 2, the Government has announced that the re-opening will take place in three phases to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
Some businesses will remain closed and Singaporeans will not be able to dine out or meet friends in the first phase, which is expected to last about a month. Some political pundits have said that they believe the next election may take place some time in July, in the second phase of re-opening.
Political scientist Woo Jun Jie told TODAY that the most likely window for the GE could be in July. Dr Woo, however, said that the election could be pushed to August or September if another wave of Covid-19 infections occur.
Others said that the election could possibly take place during the next school break that will take place from July 20 to 26.
Dr Felix Tan, an associate lecturer at SIM Global Education, forecast that Parliament could be dissolved after its next sitting, after the Fortitude Budget debate on June 4. Dr Tan told the publication: “If Parliament is dissolved within that period, it could take about two weeks to Nomination Day and a week or two for campaigning. If that is the case, Polling Day could be in the middle of July.”
Political scientist Walid Jumblatt Abdullah said that although the ruling party could call an election as soon as end-June if it wants Singapore to go to the polls as early as possible, he believes this is unlikely “since there has been much outcry over whether it is proper to hold an election when strict distancing measures are in effect”.
Dr Walid, who is with the Nanyang Technological University, also suggested that the ruling party could use the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason to call an election early since more livelihoods would be impacted adversely by the health crisis.
Meanwhile, Institute of Policy Studies deputy director of research Dr Gillian Koh had a different view. She told TODAY that she believes it makes more sense for the Government to hold off until the nation sees a sustained pattern of single-digit or zero Covid-19 infections so that it can justify calling an election at an earlier time.
As Singapore would want to pick a window where there is less uncertainty on the global geo-political level, Dr Koh suggested that an election that is held after National Day in August could allow the ruling party to set out its achievements through a platform like the National Day Rally.
She said: “But after August, it does not look like the GE will be something held at the end of the year, save for the chance that there are still a lot of Covid-19 cases in Singapore, which is always a possibility.” /TISG
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