Should Singapore hold the General Elections this year?
This is not an easy topic to discuss as the world now is going through a very rough economic period owing to the spread of COVID-19 and social unrest. Singapore rode out a first wave of infections, but saw a second wave surge as other countries across the region and globally started experiencing mass infections. Singaporeans, PRs, and long-term visitors led the surge in infections, with some new clusters appearing due to certain individual choices. It seems people in Singapore believe the land they are in offers some “magical protection” once the government offers assurances and takes strict measures to contain the violence. That seems to imply a whole lot of trust in what the Singapore government has done so far from the onset of the virus appearing on our shores.
Yes, that is a lot of implied trust in the system we have here, which is headed by the PAP government. The Opposition Parties fear the amount of good press that the government has been getting in various media, and the generally good standing it has with the populace. But apart from that fear (maybe arising from the fear of losing big), they do make a good point about the risk of infections. There is a possibility that another wave of infections could arise from conducting elections when the pandemic is still a huge global concern. As long as there are countries not managing it well, there is a risk. Some nations like France have postponed their elections, but if you look at the situation there and in Europe you will find that it is far worse than in Singapore.
However, we do also have to balance our perspective. As much as we fear what the virus can do to the nation here and now, we must not forget that there’s a future to look forward to. There is much work to prepare for as well as to repair what the virus will do to our nation. We will have to rebuild our nation and emerge as a stronger society and economy. But this is not just the government’s role. Singaporeans and the foreigners have a part to play too and cannot be complacent. Just because we have a strong and capable government here in Singapore doesn’t mean we will magically ride out this storm without problems.
Can we have the general elections within the year? I am pretty sure we can. It could be anywhere after May, and possibly between June to December. I am certain that there will be strict safety measures to ensure that the risk of another wave of infections is minimized. Measures that people will have to abide by that we may have as safe an environment as we can.
If you ask me, I would say that the Opposition Parties should not be squandering the precious time they could be spending winning hearts and minds rather than politicking and accusing the PAP of putting the people in Singapore at risk if there’s an election. After all, the PAP has not been mentioning a potential GE much but the Opposition Parties have been rather focused on it and demonizing the PAP for “responding slowly” to the virus. They also have not understood the macro (i.e., the larger impact of any policies) implications of any of their ‘suggestions’ would have on us. The PAP has not yet responded to these claims because they will rather focus on the crisis at hand.
To give an example, either harsher initiatives or even a partial lockdown would have likely seen a mad scramble for necessities on a far greater scale than what we’ve seen so far. Imagine the psychological shock when you realize that your daily habits and routine have come to a standstill. The effectiveness of a progressive set of measures allows society time to ease in to the changes and sacrifices they would have to make. And that is the hallmark of the PAP government. But it is not just the government’s role. No, we as citizens and residents of Singapore have to play our part.
We all know that Singapore is in a precarious position right now. And that the government has shown time and again the brilliance and mettle to lead us through crisis after crisis. While I do not know when the GE will be held, I hope that when it does, we are prepared to make the right choice for Singapore and vote wisely.