The series of national broadcasts that kicked off yesterday (Jun 7), with PM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech, is set to address the problems that Singapore faces in the midst of Covid-19, and the way the government plans to deal with them. However, on top of the previous signs of a looming election, members of the opposition are starting to think that the national broadcasts are more than just speeches to address the Covid-19 situation.
Former non-constituency member of Parliament (NCMP) and Workers’ Party (WP) member Yee Jenn Jong lamented the absence of campaigning rules in the same post that highlighted the six national broadcasts that were scheduled.
More succinctly, Reform Party (RP) Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam slammed the national broadcasts as “pure electioneering outside the legal campaigning period”.
Together with the earlier signs of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee’s report being released in March this year, and the passing of the amendment of the Parliamentary Elections Act in May, all signs point to the General Elections (GE) being held in the coming few months. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Elections Act was amended with the specific purpose of accommodating the Covid-19 special arrangements, indicating that the GE is ready to be held regardless of the evolving situation of the pandemic.
Members of the ruling party have pushed for the elections to be held soon, with DPM Heng stressing that “the sooner we get it done, the earlier we can rally everybody together to deal with these very significant challenges ahead”. Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has also echoed that view, arguing that putting it off could make it “more unpredictable, difficult and dangerous”.
However, members of various opposition parties have indicated their wishes to focus on the pandemic and not rush into holding the elections. Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Secretary-General Dr Tan Cheng Bock agreed with SM Teo that a caretaker government could pose constitutional problems, but insisted that “a constitutional problem will not take away the lives of loved ones”. Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Secretary-General Steve Chia has also reiterated his party’s stance that holding the elections during this time will be “most irresponsible”.
More recently on June 3, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader and outspoken opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan reminded people that there was still time for the elections to be held towards the end of the year, without a need for it to be “squeezed in July 2020”.
Despite the multitude of opposition voices cautioning and arguing against a rushed GE in the midst of a still-evolving pandemic, the plan for six national broadcasts in June indicates that the ruling party wishes to push forward with the elections.
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