Thou Pandering Shalt Finally Halt on May 7

Yesterday (20 Apr), President Tony Tan issued the writ of election at the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

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With the announcement of the by-election dates just a day after SDP’s application to the Jurong-Clementi Town Council, we observe an awkward conflict in SDP’s intended health screening programme and the dates of the by-election.

Can SDP still hold their health screening event?

On Monday (19 Apr), the SDP announced their intention to organise a health screening day for residents of Bukit Batok from 10am to 4pm on 30 Apr, pending approval from the Jurong-Clementi Town Council.

According to the SDP, the health screening will be staffed with qualified doctors and nurses to conduct screening for blood pressure and blood glucose levels for Bukit Batok residents.

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This was a response to People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate, Murali Pillai’s decision to organise a carnival for lower income residents for Bukit Batok last Sunday (17 Apr). It was a carnival with no losers. Around 360 lower income household residents in Bukit Batok were given the opportunity in the carnival to pick and choose grocery items, get haircuts, and assistance with job searching.

If you’re wondering about Murali’s legitimacy in hosting this event, take note that he is currently the Chairman of the PAP Bukit Batok Branch. Hence, he has the prerogative to organise events.

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Now, with the writ elections issued, SDP’s plans for the health screening day could be thrown off-course.

SDP’s intended health screening day is on 30 Apr, which will now also fall on the 4th day of the by-election campaigning. According to Singapore Constitution on the Parliamentary Election Act, Section 58 – Treating, it could be observed that the provision of health screening may actually be prohibited come 30 Apr.

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…Unless it is taken into account that providing health screening is not exactly giving or providing meat, drink, refreshment, cigarette, entertainment or other provision or thing or any money or ticket as such. Or that SDP, being a political organisation, does not refers to a “person”.

It can also be noted that SDP’s health screening event is still pending the Jurong-Clementi Town Council’s approval, and it is not mentioned if the provision of the health screening would be free-of-charge for residents of Bukit Batok.

Precedents suggest that providing health screening is not unorthodox for political parties in Singapore. Residents from Aljunied-Hougang was also offered free healthcare screening last year by the People’s Association (PA). However, the service was offered on 15 Jul, well before the actual General Elections, and it is obviously denied as an electoral tactic.

What now?

Secretary General Dr Chee has promised to inform the public on the outcome of the health screen application, I guess, all that’s left to do is wait and watch the drama unfold.

 

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Featured image via EdmundKhor/ Guitar Singapore Travels