SINGAPORE — The focus of the General Election (GE) should be about getting Singapore through the COVID-19 crisis, an issue which is above any political party’s survival or interests, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (4 July).
“Every voter will have to decide who they want to be their member of parliament, who they want to take care of them and their families, and who can best help them to secure their jobs. It is as simple as that,” he said, during a doorstop midway through his walkabout at ABC Brickworks Food Centre. “It is about the survival of families and our country. It’s not about the survival of any particular party.”
Chan also told the media that he had read the other parties’ manifesto and found one aspect “glaringly missing” – how to get through the pandemic.
“This election is probably conducted in the most challenging time in our history. I think every party, including the PAP (People’s Action Party) must have the plans to share with the voters how we are going to get through this situation,” said Chan.
He maintained that the government needs a fresh mandate from the people because the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will last “not just a few months but (for) the next few years”.
“If by the end of this year, we still do not have a new government, can you imagine if we are hit by a subsequent wave of infections? How will we be able to move decisively?”
Chan, a candidate for Tanjong Pagar group representation constituency (GRC), was joined by Indranee Rajah and Joan Pereira, and new candidates Eric Chua and Alvin Tan.
To a reporter who had asked if the ruling PAP had neglected the health and safety of Singaporeans by calling for an election during the COVID-19 situation, Chan said, “I don’t think that is the correct characterisation of what we are facing at this point in time.”
He explained how the government had tackled each point in the epidemic curve and “it is very clear where our efforts have been and what the results are”. Chan said that while the situation, such as at the migrant worker dormitories, is under control control, “we are still managing challenges”.
“In fact... you will notice that there are a few of us (who) are perhaps not doing as much of the usual campaigning and that’s because we still have to manage the complex situation facing us.” He cited Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, both co-chairs of the coronavirus multi-ministry taskforce, as examples.
“And I can touch my heart and say that at no point in time, have we ever neglected the lives, livelihoods and lifelines of people,” Chan added.
The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) candidate for Bukit Panjang single-member constituency (SMC) Dr Paul Tambyah, who was recently elected to be the president of the US-based International Society of Infectious Diseases, had suggested at a forum on Friday evening that the COVID-19 ministerial committee could have lost focus on public health and started thinking about the election in March.
At the end of the day, Chan said, “I think voters will have to decide if they want the opposition... if they believe the opposition is really to check the government or if the opposition is trying to checkmate the government (as it provides) more effective, more decisive governance for us to get through this crisis.”
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