The Workers’ Party has urged the Government to publish election rules and provide clarity on how the election will be held given the COVID-19 health crisis, after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the elections are drawing closer.
On Wednesday (27 May), Mr Heng gave the strongest indication a minister has given to date on the timing of the elections to date when he said that it is better to hold the next General Election (GE) sooner rather than later.
Speaking to CNA, the DPM said that Singapore’s economy is facing significant long-term challenges that could take the next five to 10 years to resolve. He added that the sooner the general election 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.”
Calling on the people to be prepared for the election when asked whether Singaporeans will have to wait for Singapore to full re-open before going to the polls, the ruling party politician 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.
“If you look at what other countries have done, they have been able to do it (hold an election), even under very difficult circumstances. South Korea has done it and in fact, they had a record turnout.
“When we do so, the public health considerations and public safety will be a foremost consideration. Even the way in which elections are to be conducted will be different from before.”
Noting the DPM’s remarks, the WP said in a press statement today (28 May) that the modifications to the election in view of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear and that the Elections Department has yet to issue a definitive announcement on the changes to campaigning rules.
Sharing that it has been calling on the Government to publish clear campaigning rules, the WP said, “To date, there has been a distinct lack of clarity as to precisely how campaigning will be modified in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several Ministers have made vague and unspecific comments since March that campaign methods would need to be modified.
“However, despite the Party’s calls, there has been no definitive announcement by the Elections Department on these anticipated changes.”
Noting that resource-strapped opposition parties risk squandering the limited funds they have since they do not know what modes of campaigning will be allowed and what will not, the WP pointed out that parties also need time to plan and find suppliers that can provide relevant services to aid campaigning efforts:
“With uncertainty as to what mode of campaigning will or will not be allowed, political parties risk squandering resources and expenditures. For instance, while it has been stated that streaming of videos may be employed, it is not known whether there will be regulations about the content and format of such videos.
“In addition, with elections “coming nearer by the day”, the window of time to find suitable suppliers for services is narrowing.”
Asserting that the elections should not be taken lightly even as the nation focuses on overcoming the health crisis, the WP called on the Government to make the campaigning rules clear so that all parties can be prepared to offer voters their best efforts:
“While Singaporeans continue to focus on overcoming COVID-19, general elections are an essential feature of our democracy that should not be taken lightly. Contesting parties should know the ground rules as soon as possible, in order to be well-prepared to offer Singaporean voters their best efforts at the polls.”
Read the statement in full here:
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