GE should not be held during outbreak, says SDP chairman

Singapore Democratic Party chairman Paul Tambyah (left) said "We think it is the height of irresponsibility to conduct an election at a time like this."
Singapore Democratic Party chairman Paul Tambyah (left) said "We think it is the height of irresponsibility to conduct an election at a time like this."PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore Democratic Party chairman Paul Tambyah said yesterday that Singapore should not have a general election while the Covid-19 outbreak is still not under control.

He called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to issue a statement that he will not call an election until the situation has stabilised.

Speaking to reporters before an outreach event in Bukit Batok SMC, Professor Tambyah said: "We think it is the height of irresponsibility to conduct an election at a time like this."

Speculation had swirled that an election is imminent with the release of the electoral boundaries report on March 13, and various opposition parties have said it would be irresponsible to call an election during the outbreak.

PM Lee had said last week that with the next general election due by April 21 next year, Singapore has two choices - to hope that things will stabilise before holding an election at the end of the Government's term, or to call an election early to elect a new government with a fresh mandate to weather the storm with Singaporeans.

He added that if an election had to be held before the outbreak is over, precautions will be taken to ensure that parties can campaign effectively and people can vote safely.

But Prof Tambyah, an infectious diseases expert at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said yesterday that an election would mean large groups of people getting together to meet politicians, to attend rallies or to vote, and this could cause the virus to spread further.

He said PM Lee should assure Singaporeans that the Government's focus is on bringing things under control and protecting the people, and that an election would not be considered until Singapore saw only a couple of cases a day or week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 22, 2020, with the headline 'GE should not be held during outbreak, says SDP chairman'. Print Edition | Subscribe