SINGAPORE: The General Election should only be held after there are “clear signs that the (COVID-19) situation has abated”, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said on Saturday (Mar 14).
Speaking to reporters a day after the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report was released, Dr Chee took aim at the timing.
“Don’t forget, they (EBRC) had seven to eight months to do this. But it waits till the point where this outbreak of the virus is at its worst, pandemic has just been declared,” Dr Chee said.
“It is the worst of possible times for us to call for elections at this stage … PAP cannot be more irresponsible to do something like this when we should be focusing our state resources, that the minds of Singaporeans at least on overcoming, conquering this virus,” Dr Chee added.
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He said given that the elections must be held by April 2021, his party would continue its call to the ruling party to “categorically tell us that there will be no elections until there are clear signs that this outbreak has been contained and arrested … not when DORSCON is still at Orange”.
The Government has accepted the EBRC’s recommendations and will implement them in the next general election. The next step is for President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s advice. In 2015, the report was released on Jul 24, a month before parliament was dissolved. Polling day was on Sep 11, 2015.
Responding to a question about SDP’s plans in the coming weeks, Dr Chee said the party would “do what we can and stick to this whole message of telling the PAP not to call for elections at this time”.
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“We do not accept that this is inevitable, that we have to go in into an election (and) bring people together,” Dr Chee said.
“We’re not just talking about rallies. When you do the count, the Elections Department people, they’ve still got to manually count the ballot. What’s going to happen? How do we then get into a situation where we want to observe the count, but we have to maintain this social distance?” he said.
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When asked to give his response on some political analysts’ comments that the opposition may face disadvantages if an election is called soon, Dr Chee said his party does not “calculate that way”.
“Here you have clearly a threat that’s going worldwide – a pandemic. It is completely outrageous to even think of the elections right now,” he said, emphasising that the Government needs to “focus on arresting this problem”.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong had on Friday said that technology could possibly be used in place of having people gather.
When asked about Mr Wong’s comments, Dr Chee emphasised that the election does not need to be held now. “We’ve got until April 2021. Hang in there. Ask Mr Wong, focus on getting this right first.”