SINGAPORE: Former Workers’ Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong expressed concerns over the tight schedule for the upcoming Presidential Election, writing in an Aug 14 (Monday) Facebook post, “If we think about the timeline, you will realize how seriously it is making a mockery of the system.”
He underlines the amount of work and logistics that go into a “proper campaign at the national level,” which include “printing of posters, banners, hanging them up, plus preparing manifesto, visits, media campaigns etc.,” and adding that some of these activities may only be done when a candidate’s eligibility is confirmed.
Mr. Yee posted a screengrab from The Straits Times of the timeline for the Presidential Election announced by the Elections Department on August 11 upon the issuance of the Writ of Election by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
It shows that between the date when candidates are informed of the outcome of their application, set for Aug 21, there’s only one day until Nomination Day (Aug 22), which kicks off the nine-day campaign period. This is followed by a Cooling Off Day (Aug 31) and the actual Polling Day (Sept 1).
The ex-NCMP then asked, “How do you give just one or at best a few days’ notice from the time that a person knows that he is eligible to get the items printed and to mobilize logistics companies to put them up across Singapore?
Having taken part in elections before, the logistics and volunteers required for just a campaign at the SMC or GRC level is already quite onerous, not to mention a serious campaign at the national level.
There is no need for such deadlines.”
Mr. Yee wrote that only a candidate sure of his eligibility will be prepared for the campaign. He added that if Singapore wants participation in its democratic processes, “there is no need to give impossible deadlines.
It is unreasonable to expect any aspiring candidate to incur huge cost printing these not knowing if he will be eligible because it is down to a few ‘wise’ men/women to interpret the rules on eligibility for those from the private sector.”
He wrote that in the same vein, it is unnecessary for the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) to make sudden changes and then call for the General Election to be held quickly afterward.
“It has even been as bad as one day’s notice from EBRC changes to calling a GE. There should be a reasonable time period for any electoral boundary changes to become effective in a GE (I had suggested 6-12 months before), to allow time for interested parties to make preparations to reach the electorates.”
He added that this type of “manipulation of democratic processes” has served to remove people’s motivation to participate in politics, despite the desire for the best candidates and good government.
Mr Yee ended his post by wishing the candidates well. “Anyway, all the best to the 4 aspiring candidates. Other than the One who is certain to be eligible, I hope others can be too. #pe2023” /TISG