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PM Lee calls for General Election
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong is calling a General Election, after advising President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament and issue the Writ of Election.
In a national broadcast, Mr Lee explained his decision to call the GE now, saying that Singaporeans and the government must work closely together to over the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"An election now – when things are relatively stable – will clear the decks, and give the new government a fresh full five-year mandate. It can then focus on this national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make and to carry," Mr Lee said.
The alternative is to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. "But we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this government’s term must end next April This is why I have decided to hold the General Election now."
He added that this will not be a normal election campaign. Before deciding to proceed, Mr Lee said he had to be certain of two things – that voters can vote safely and that political parties can campaign effectively.
"After studying the issues, I am satisfied that both of these can be done," Mr Lee said.
To ensure voter safety the Elections Department of Singapore (ELD) will be implementing additional precautions on Polling Day, he said.
This includes having more polling stations than in previous elections to reduce crowding, having safe-distancing measures, and allocating time slots for voting, with seniors given priority before others.
As for effective campaigning, Mr Lee said ELD has also made arrangements and issued guidelines.
Candidates can still do house-to-house campaigning, as long as they observe safe-distancing precautions. While physical election rallies will not be possible, candidates will get airtime on national TV and they can speak to voters through live streaming.
Mr Lee noted that South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries have also held elections during the pandemic, and he said he is confident Singapore can hold a proper and safe election with these precautions in place.
He also assured Singaporeans that the government will continue to govern even during the election period.
"The Cabinet remains in charge even after Parliament is dissolved; the public service will function normally. This is so in every General Election, but I emphasise this now because of the vital importance of ongoing operations against Covid-19, sustaining the economy and protecting jobs," Mr Lee said.
This means the the ministerial task force will still lead Singapore's response to Covid-19, the National Jobs Council will create jobs and training places and businesses, and workers and families will cotninue to receive support, he said.
For more of our Singapore GE2020 coverage, go to bt.sg/ge2020