COVID-19: PAP suspends all ground engagements during circuit breaker period

Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Chia Shi-Lu visiting Alexandra Village Food Centre to hand out face masks to hawkers. (PHOTO: Chia Shi-Lu/Facebook)
Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Chia Shi-Lu visiting Alexandra Village Food Centre to hand out face masks to hawkers. (PHOTO: Chia Shi-Lu/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party (PAP) will be suspending all ground engagements such as market visits, home visits and meet-the-people sessions during the current elevated safe distancing period to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Singapore’s ruling party made the announcement in a post put up on its Facebook page on Monday (13 April).

“At this time, it is critical that, as far as possible, all of us play our part, to protect all of us, especially our seniors. Our MPs (Members of Parliament) and representatives remain contactable,” it said in the post.

“Once this is over we will be out there again, meeting you, organising activities and hosting Meet-the-People sessions. For now, please stay home. Stay safe and take care.”

Face mask distribution to hawkers criticised

While the Facebook post did not reference any incidents, it came a day after Tanjong Pagar GRC MP, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, came under heavy criticism for distributing face masks to hawkers at Alexandra Village Food Centre.

According to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, he was accompanied by Eric Chua, director of SGSecure Programme Office, who is viewed as a potential PAP candidate for the upcoming general election.

Responding to the criticism, Chia told The Straits Times that he was at the hawker centre to encourage hawkers to wear face masks, and not for a campaigning walkabout. The group accompanying him was kept to fewer than five people.

As for Chua, Chia said that he was also “not there for campaigning”, adding that Chua is an active volunteer for the GRC.

Political parties should not conduct meet-the-people sessions

Under the current circuit breaker period rules, gatherings of any size are banned, to cut social interaction to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The National Environment Agency had also informed political parties that meet-the-people sessions should not be conducted during this period, which lasts until 4 May.

The Workers’ Party, Singapore’s main opposition party, had announced on 26 March that it has temporarily suspended all house visits, but will remain contactable via digital platforms.

Its MPs or town councillors will continue to inspect their respective estates and serve residents’ needs with the help of one or two volunteers.

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