Sunday, June 28, 2020

Singapore General Election 2020 Amid Covid-19 ?

So now it is official that Singapore will hold the nation General Election to elect Member of the Parliament to the 14th Parliament of Singapore since independence in 1965.  In fact, months ago before the lockdown in May that General Election could be round the corner already speculating despite the fact that that nation has till April 2021 to hold one.

The question of holding an election amid Covid-19 definitely raise a lot of concerns.  Its not just the opposition parties want to know why, any citizen of Singapore would like and entitle to know too.  Covid-19 still ongoing, not a single vaccination has developed so far, global infected cases as according to WHO situation report on 27th Jun 2020 (refer here) was 9.6M with death toll of more than 490k, that translates into a fatality rate of 5%.  Singapore alone as of 28th Jun 2020 have 43,459 cases with 26 death.  I don't think anyone in Singapore (or globally) can boldly step forward to say "WE ARE FREE FROM COVID-19" now.  So, why still hold an Election now given the deadline is April 2021.  The Government definitely need to present a strong reason to convince the citizen else it is just seen as purely political move rather than putting citizens' interest as priority.

South Korea held one in April 2020 against the backdrop of ongoing Covid-19 so if South Korea can do it, why Singapore can't ?  I seriously hope this is not the strong reason given by the Government to convince the nation.  South Korea election if I'm not wrong is not mandatory.  That means if the citizen feels he/she does not want the risk of being infected, he/she can just don't participate in the voting.  Moreover, their election date has long been fixed prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.  On the other hand, voting in Singapore is mandatory.  Comparing apple with orange ?

Singapore now is into phase 2 of easing from lockdown, people can go out to shop, buy their favorite bubble teas, dine in restaurants, food courts and hawker centers, etc with strictly following the safety rules of social distancing and wearing mask so why election cannot be held ?  Perhaps this type of reasoning a die hard supporter of the ruling party can accept as convincing reason but as long as there are still lingering questions remain concern the safety of the people, that cannot be acceptable.

Unlike countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and even China who managed to contain the 1st wave of the Covid-19 infection by having consecutive days of 0 reported cases, Singapore since the outbreak in end January 2020 till now does not have that kind of luxury.  If the reason of South Korea can hold the election amid Covid-19, why Singapore can't ?  Then my question is if those countries listed above can register 0 cases for consecutive days, why Singapore can't ?  You can't just use events or data that are biased toward your action to justify right ?

The above listed countries are now facing the possible 2nd wave so what make Singapore so different that we won't be having 2nd wave given that community activities are slowly resuming ?The nation was being told to expect for increase in community spread after easing of lockdown.  By knowing we are going to see increase in community spread then why purposely hold event that does nothing constructive to prevent the spread ?

Have came across in social media people supporting to hold GE now (needless to say these people definitely die hard supporters of the ruling party) with reasons being the daily cases has eased, Singapore has one of the lowest fatality rate (apart from Vietnam with 0 death so far) globally and the Government has done a good job to contain the virus.  Some even compare the situation in US to Singapore to fully justify the Government has done a good job.  Why they are not comparing Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and even Vietnam to determine whether Singapore Government has done a good job ?

Covid-19 is not just about death toll, the lesser number of people died from it is an indication of how success in managing the crisis.  The death toll, the disruption that it brings and the very important the workload and safety of the front line heath care workers should be used as an overall to judge.  I don't see our front line health care workers have a well deserved break since the outbreak in January as daily cases still in the few hundreds range after the outbreak from the foreign workers' dormitories in May.  I don't see this as acceptable.  For those who doesn't think this is concerning, are you having the mindset of 自扫门前雪,莫管他人瓦上霜 ?

I have written a small part on the General Election issue in Covid-19, An Opportunity To ... in 15th Apr 2020.  In that post I suggested we could set a deadline of October 2020, 6-month before April 2021 to decide when to hold the next GE so that from then till October all focus should be on fighting the Covid-19.  My question now is why that cannot be done ?  In fact we can even afford to set the deadline till December 2020.  Since the announcement of Parliament dissolves to 10th Jul 2020 polling day, the whole process is less than 1 month.  Setting a deadline in December 2020, we still can have 4 month to prepare for a General Election.  Don't think the Singapore Government is so incompetent that they can't manage to hold a General Election with 4 months time frame when they just did it in less than 1 month now.

Another plus point of putting a deadline either in October or even December is to allow the development of electronics voting system in parallel.  Why we need an electronics voting system ?  Nobody can assure how long the Covid-19 can last, the situation in 2021 might be worse than now and if that is so, the electronics voting method would be used so that majority of the citizens can avoid risking themselves being infected while polling.  I'm engineering trained with experience in software and hardware development like many others out there.  With that kind of time frame, it is impossible to convince me that cannot be done.  Moreover, Singapore has been talking about transforming into smart nation and isn't electronics voting an entity of defining smart nation ?

Until the Government can come out a strong reason to convince me why General Election cannot be wait and most importantly why working toward what I've suggested deems inappropriate, not feasible or not workable, holding an Election amid Covid-19 is very difficult to justify it is putting citizens' interest as priority.

Singapore Covid-19



No comments:

Post a Comment