Why no by-election?

June 22, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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The excuse given by Goh Chok Tong for not holding a by-election is lame. The truth of the matter is that the Prime Minister has not given a satisfactory answer to why he does not want a by-election. The PAP endorsed Choo Wee Khiang’s candidacy during the 1997 General Elections and called on the voters to send him to Parliament. Clearly, the voters’ faith has not been rewarded.

To make such a flippant remark that a by-election would be a “distraction” during a recession insults the intelligence of Singaporeans. If this logic holds, then

  • the next general elections should be done away with if the recession continues or if recovery does not materialise,
  • the upcoming presidential elections should be cancelled,
  • Asian countries facing the economic crisis should shelf elections until the region gets back on its feet again, and
  • countries like Burma which has no elections should be the shining example of economic prosperity.

Has the Prime Minister not thought that it is the precisely the absence of elections, at least truly democratic ones, that has brought about the economic mess that some of the countries in the region is in? Elections are a test of the people’s endorsement of a government’s performance during a crisis. Clearly, the Prime Minister does not relish such a test.

Goh Chok Tong also doesn’t want to see too much “excitement” in Singapore. This clearly does not square with his vision when he said that Singaporeans should have “intense interest and passion” in the things that they do. The question is how does one develop intense interest and passion about something without at the same time getting excited about it?

The PAP Government should not treat elections in such a casual manner. It should seriously consider giving proper reasons for not having a by-election. Until it does, it is morally obliged and accountable to the people of Singapore to hold one in the Jalan Besar GRC.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General