[Update: 23 June 2020, 4:27pm]
President Halimah Yacob, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has dissolved Singapore’s 13th Parliament and issued the Writ of Election on Tuesday (June 23).
Nomination Day will be on June 30, with the minimum of nine days to campaign before Cooling-off Day. Polling Day will be a public holiday, and will be announced by the Returning Officer.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a live address to the nation on Tuesday (June 23) that he has advised President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament and issue the Writ of Election.
Explaining why he has decided to call an election now, he says the current Government is approaching the end of its five-year term.
Under the Constitution, the term of this Parliament must end by January 2021, unless it is dissolved earlier. Elections must be held within three months after that, which means by April 2021 at the latest.
“That is less than a year away,” he says.
PM Lee says holding an election now – when things are relatively stable – will clear the decks, and give the new Government a fresh, full five-year mandate.
The Government can then focus on this national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make and to carry.
The alternative, he says, is to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic but there is no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this Government’s term, which must end next April.
“This is why I have decided to hold the General Election now,” he says.
Not A “Normal Election”
Singapore is still in the midst of Covid-19, so it will not be a normal election
campaign, says PM Lee.
Before deciding to proceed, PM Lee says he had to be certain of two things:
First, that voters can vote safely. Second, that political parties can campaign effectively.
“After studying the issues, I am satisfied that both of these can be
done,” he says.
PM Lee says the Elections Department will be implementing additional precautions on Polling Day to ensure the safety of voters.
More polling stations than in previous elections will be set up to reduce crowding.
There will be safe distancing measures at the polling stations. Voters will be allocated specific time slots to vote, and seniors will be given priority to vote before others.
The Elections Department has also made arrangements and issued guidelines to ensure effective campaigning.
Candidates can still go house-to-house campaigning, provided they observe the safe distancing precautions.
Physical election rallies will not be possible, but this will be made up with more opportunities for candidates to speak directly to voters on television, and of course online, for example via live streaming.
PM Lee added that Singapore is not the first to hold an election during the Covid-19 outbreak. Other governments such as South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries have done so too.
With the necessary arrangements and precautions in place, he is confident Singapore can hold a proper and safe election.
Featured Image Credit: MCI