How do we know that the number in front of General Election will be 2015?
MustShareNews spots ominous signs (as at 18 June) that the General Election is looming ahead, slowly but surely. We will guide you across the signs that we have spotted.
1. The Government is handing out goodies
Traditionally, the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government dispenses out goodies to the public whenever they were preparing for an election.
During the previous 2011 General Election, the Government released the “2011 Growth and Share Package.” The package dispensed a one-off payment to each individual in Singapore, and the total package costed the Government a total of SGD$3.4 billion.
Yesterday (17 June), the Public Service Division announced that all civil servants are set to receive 2 cash benefits from the Government —
1. A one-off payment of SGD$500. (thank god for the civil servants, it is not literally SGD$50)
2. A mid-year bonus of half a month’s pay this year.
In addition, Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issue Gan Kim Yong announced last month (22 May) that more than 700,000 senior citizens will be receiving the Senior Citizen Package. The package includes public transport concessions, discounted prices to places of attraction in Singapore and free Passion Card membership, among others.
All this in the name of
2015 General Election SG50.
Thanks PM Lee!
2. Experts said so
Experts have commented that it is totally plausible for Singapore to have a General Election this year.
“It will be strategically sound to have a strong government … and the faster the better,”
– Prof Bilveer Singh
Prof Singh cites that the threat of the Islamic State and international political uncertainty will be a factor for the PAP to push for a General Election before December. He added that “the image, sympathy and support for the PAP have been boosted immensely” by the passing of Lee Kuan Yew.
“Lee Kuan Yew dividend”
– Dr Tan Ern Ser
Dr Tan predicted that the General Election will be held by September, citing the Lee Kuan Yew dividend can be further reinforced by National Day celebrations in August and the 50th anniversary of the nation’s independence by the PAP
” “If the (Prime Minister) is looking at elections in the year 2016, I would argue that he would be likely to have embarked on a (major) reshuffle … he would have gone for more changes … (but) it was very limited and targeted.”
– Associate Prof Eugene Tan
Assoc. Prof Tan explained the conservative nature of the Cabinet reshuffle in April and hints that the General Election will take place this year. The Cabinet reshuffle would have been on a larger scale if the election was planned for 2016 and beyond.
3. Conditions are just right
In a Parliamentary Democracy like Singapore, the ruling party has the discretion to call for the General Election when the conditions are set and ready for them to draw the best results.
As it stands, the conditions are almost perfect for the PAP government to call for election before the end of the year.
a. Opposition Parties are in shambles
With an increased number of opposition parties, it only means that the oppositions are polarised and divided. The overall political climate of polarisation and disunity among the opposition parties spells well for the united ruling party in the Government.
In 2011, Tan Jee Say quit the Singapore Democratic Party to form the Singaporeans First Party on 25 May 2014. Earlier this year (15 May), Goh Meng Seng formed the People’s Power Party after quitting the National Solidarity Party in 2011.
The main opposition party in the Parliament, Workers’ Party, is currently in the midst of repairing their damaged reputation from the AHPETC saga, where there are attempts for damage control such as Sylvia Lim issuing an open letter.
The National Solidarity Party showed signs of disunity when Tan Lam Siong resigned less than 4 months (17 June) since taking charge as the Secretary General.
Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary General of the Singapore Democratic Party, subtly hinted that the AHPETC saga was partly due to the fault of the Workers’ Party.
Chee mentioned that there was no “deliberate sabotage” by the old town council after the SDP had won the Bukit Gombak and Nee Soon Central seats in the 1991 General Election from his experience, giving further evidence of disagreement among the opposition parties.
As if there is not enough disunity, independent candidates like M Ravi are also emerging to take on the ruling party.
The SG50 marks Singapore’s 50th aniversary of independence since separation from Malaysia, at the same time it also marks the 50th year that the PAP has been in control of Singapore.
A 2015 General Election will certainly invoke the nostalgia of the PAP success over the past 50 years, making them look more electable than any other parties running against them.
c. The Passing of the Patriarch
The passing of Lee Kuan Yew saw a renewed strength of support for the PAP. More than 1.2 million people have paid their respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House and at various community clubs.
The show of strength was not merely in numbers but also in emotion; many heartfelt tributes were given from Singaporeans of all walks of life. As Prof Bilveer Singh have put it, the passing of Lee Kuan Yew will provide the PAP with a renewed image and support in the coming General Election if it is held this year.
4. Ministerial block leave
Most of us know that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong went on a holiday to Hokkaido, Japan and will be absent from work from 13th – 21st June. However, a lesser known fact is that 8 high ranking members of the PAP also took leave – is there a block leave going on?
If so, could the PAP be preparing for a General Election fight when they get back?
5. Cabinet reshuffle
PM Lee announced a cabinet reshuffle earlier this year (8 April) , with 5 changes to his cabinet.
Minister Chan Chun Sing – Minister for Social and Family Development / Second Minister for Defence
Minister Tan Chuan Jin – Minister for Manpower
Minister Lui Tuck Yew – Minister for Transport
Minister Lim Swee Say – Minister in Prime Minister’s Office / Secretary General of the NTUC
Masagos Zulkifli – Member of Parliament / Second Minister in Home Affairs / Second Minister in Foreign Affairs
Minister Chan Chun Sing – Minister in Prime Minister’s Office / Secretary General of the NTUC
Minister Tan Chuan Jin – Minister for Social and Family Development
Minister Lui Tuck Yew – Minister for Transport / Second Minister for Defence
Minister Lim Swee Say – Minister for Manpower
Masagos Zulkifli – Minister in Prime Minister’s Office / Second Minister in Home Affairs / Second Minister in Foreign Affairs
The Cabinet reshuffle is seen by some experts as a preparation for a General Election. Prof Eugene Tan has mentioned that the small scale cabinet reshuffle is a sign of an impending election this year.
One noteworthy shuffle is Chan Chun Sing assuming the role of Secretary General of NTUC. Minister Chan was already in frame to be the next Secretary General of NTUC when he was appointed as the Deputy Secretary General back in 27 January.
The promotion on April 8 gives Minister Chan enough time to project his influence on the workers of the NTUC as well as on his GRC before the General Election to secure their votes for the coming General Election.
Now, what has Minister Chan’s promotion as the Chief of NTUC got to do with projecting his influence on his GRC, Tanjong Pagar?
Plenty of reasons. Back in 1991, Lee Kuan Yew noted Tanjong Pagar is a working class area full of workers and wage-earners.
” Tanjong Pagar is a working class area. No other division has such a high proportion of workers, wage-earners, small traders and such a low proportion of wealthy merchants and landlords living in it. I wanted to represent workers, wage earners and small traders, not wealthy merchants or landlords. So I chose Tanjong Pagar not Tanglin. ”
-Lee Kuan Yew
With Chan Chun Sing as a plausible new leader of the PAP team in Tanjong Pagar after the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, the onus falls on him to lead the chase for the votes of the residents of Tanjong Pagar who are mostly workers and wage earners.
Assuming the role of the Secretary General of the only labour union in Singapore is a perfect way to do just that.
Oh yes, the PAP is definitely shufflin.
6. Unpredictable political climate
Prof Bilveer Singh noted that the PAP government will be keen to hold a General Election by this December so as to afford them a sound and stable government amidst the unpredictable political climate both home and abroad.
“If Lee Hsien Loong wishes to sue me, I will oblige to dance with him.”
Apart from domestic challenges, Singapore also faces an increasingly unstable international situation that requires a stable government to navigate. Challenges like the Islamic State, China growing increasingly dominant in the South China Sea, the United States having a change of President and the Euro Debt Crisis among many others do affect us and require a strong government.
With the General Election likely to take place later this year, we should not be caught by surprise.
As citizens living in a democratic society, we really ought to be more politically conscious of what is the government doing. Start paying attention to what the government has been doing –when the day comes, you will know how to wisely cast your votes.
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