Workers’ Party urges Government to ‘take caution’ and ‘exercise judiciousness’ when calling for election
SINGAPORE: The Government should “take caution” and “exercise judiciousness” in calling for a General Election (GE), the Workers’ Party (WP) said on Sunday (Mar 15), two days after the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report.
Acknowledging that the General Election is usually called soon after the release of the EBRC report “in line with past experience”, WP noted that "the situation facing Singapore at present is different".
“There are worries about the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy.
“We urge the Government to take caution and exercise judiciousness in calling for a GE. Whatever decision that is made must be one that is in the best interests of Singapore, our democracy and the public health of Singaporeans,” the statement said.
Several opposition parties have urged the Government not to call an election amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Friday, the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) said in a statement that it would be “most irresponsible” to do so.
“We trust that the Government will heed its own advice to avoid mass gatherings and focus our nation’s resources on fighting the outbreak in a united manner.
“This is not the time for partisan politics, but for national unity. It would be nothing less than irresponsible for the Government to call for a General Election while the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving,” said the party.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) also made similar comments.
On Saturday, SDP chief Dr Chee Soon Juan said that it was “the worst of possible times” to call for elections at this stage, while PSP chief Dr Tan Cheng Bock questioned the wisdom of holding the General Election during the outbreak.
As of Saturday, Singapore has a total of 226 recorded COVID-19 cases, with 105 patients discharged after recovering.
The country is seeing more imported cases of the coronavirus as the disease spreads globally.
Addressing the issue of when to hold the election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Saturday said that Singapore had “two choices”.
"Either hope and pray that things will stabilise before the end of the term so that we can hold elections under more normal circumstances – but we have no certainty of that.
“Or else call elections early, knowing that we are going into a hurricane, to elect a new government with a fresh mandate and a full term ahead of it, which can work with Singaporeans on the critical tasks at hand.”
He gave the assurance that the Government “will take all precautions necessary” to allow parties to “campaign safely” and for people to “vote safely”, should elections be called before the end of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The next election, which has to take place by Apr 21 next year, can only be called after the electoral registers are updated, Mr Lee added.
The WP said that it will be “ready and prepared” for when the election is called, “as (it has) been for the last four years”.
“We will take the necessary precautions to run a fair and safe campaign,” it said.