DPM Heng Swee Keat says that the sooner the General Election is held, the quicker Singapore can deal with the Covid-19 situation.
It is unfortunate and even dangerous for the elections to be seen as an inconvenience to be gotten over with rather than a critical moment for the nation to come together to decide on its future especially in light of the Coronavirus fallout.
It is clear that the PAP is determined to hold the election despite the on-going pandemic. It must not be allowed to pull a quick event and gloss over existential threats to our society, many brought about by the PAP itself.
There are grave and far-reaching issues that need to be thoroughly debated. Singaporeans must get deeply involved in the process as it concerns their lives and the lives of their children.
To do this, the PAP must dispense with its usual tactic of allowing only the minimum period of nine days for campaigning and to monopolise newspaper columns and airwaves.
Already, mass rallies will not be a big feature (if they are allowed at all) during the hustings. This puts the opposition at an even greater disadvantage.
In order that the election is substantively meaningful, contesting parties must be given equitable access to the electorate so that voters are familiar with the various platforms, policies, points and counterpoints.
To achieve this, the SDP calls on the government to:
- Extend the official campaigning to 21 days, instead of the current nine.
- Provide all parties access to the Mediacorp's channels every night.
- Provide all parties access to radio programmes every day.
- Reserve space in the SPH newspapers for parties to publish their manifestos and ideas daily.
- Allow parties to address residents at food centres, void decks and common areas.
Mr Chan Chun Sing has also said that the PAP is seeking a strong mandate. A strong mandate can only come from an electorate given adequate time and access to the various party platforms and policies. Singaporeans will then be fully equipped to go to the polls and make informed and intelligent choices on the momentous question of how they want our country to go forward.
Conducting a stunted campaign period with the PAP controlling access to the mass media – not to mention the constricted online space due to a series of laws enacted in recent years – will give the PAP a dubious mandate at best.
It will signal a ruling party afraid of scrutiny of the track record of its 4G leadership and, more importantly, examination of the capability of the younger ministers to take Singapore forward.
The outcome arising from such a PAP-managed election is detrimental and dangerous to Singapore's future.
Now more than ever, Singaporeans need a fair, transparent and democratic system of governance which only a fair, transparent and democratic GE can bring about.