Elections Department cannot 'prematurely' announce election rules because of 'evolving' COVID-19 situation: Chan Chun Sing

Elections Department cannot 'prematurely' announce election rules because of 'evolving' COVID-19 situation: Chan Chun Sing

The Elections Department headquarters located along Prinsep Link
The Elections Department headquarters located along Prinsep Link. (File photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: The Elections Department (ELD) cannot "prematurely" announce the rules and regulations relating to the next General Election as these may be "overtaken by events", Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Saturday (May 30).

Speaking at a media briefing, he said: "ELD is fully aware of the competing needs. On one hand, ELD would like to make available the information to the parties and the candidates as early as possible for them to make the preparations. 

"On the other hand, ELD has to work under the challenging constraint that there are many scenarios."

This comes after the Workers' Party had on Thursday called on the Government to "publish election campaign rules forthwith", asking for more clarity on how campaigning might be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Singapore's next General Election must be held by Apr 14, 2021. 

READ: Workers' Party calls for clarity on campaigning rules for General Election

Singapore's Parliament passed a Bill on May 4 to facilitate voting for Singaporeans who are on stay-home notices for acute respiratory infections. Mr Chan had spoken on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the Bill. 

"I've asked ELD to walk through the various scenarios and to see when possible we can share the rules and regulations with the parties and the candidates, to give them sufficient time, yet at the same time not have rules that may become invalid by the evolving situation," Mr Chan told reporters on Saturday.

He noted, for example, the difference between the circuit breaker measures and the Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 measures.

"So depending on when the (election) will be called by the Prime Minister, then the ELD must make sure that whatever measures that they announce are cognisant and in sync with the prevailing health situation," he said. 

"So this is the reason that ELD has to work through various scenarios to see how best to do this."

READ: Singapore secured about S$13 billion in investment commitments in first 4 months of 2020 amid COVID-19 outbreak

Speaking to CNA on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that "elections are coming nearer by the day".

"The sooner we get it done, 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," Mr Heng said during the interview. 

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Source: CNA/az(mi)

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