In his address to the nation yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Parliament has been dissolved and the Writ of Election has been issued.

Nomination Day will be on Tuesday, 30 June 2020 and Polling Day will be on Friday, 10 July.

10 July to be a public holiday due to Polling Day 

According to the Elections Department Singapore, under the law, Polling Day at any General Election shall be a public holiday. Every employer shall on Polling Day allow every elector in his employ a reasonable period of time for voting.

On the reason for holding the election during this period, Prime Minister Lee said: "An election now – when things are relatively stable – will clear the decks, and give the new Government a fresh, full, five-year mandate. It can then focus on this national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make and to carry. The alternative is to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this Government’s term must end next April. And this is why I have decided to hold the General Election now."

During his address, he acknowledged that as the nation is still in the midst of COVID-19, the election campaign will not be a normal one. 

He assured Singaporeans that before deciding to proceed, the issues of voter safety and the ability to campaign effectively were studied and he was "satisfied that both of these can be done".

Additional precautions on Polling Day

To ensure voter safety, the Elections Department will be implementing additional precautions on Polling Day. This includes:

  • More polling stations than in previous elections, to reduce crowding.
  • Safe distancing measures practiced at the polling stations.
  • Allocating voters specific time slots to vote, with seniors given priority to vote before others.

Arrangements and guidelines for effective campaigning amid COVID-19

On effective campaigning, the Elections Department has also made arrangements and issued guidelines, including:

  • Candidates can still go house-to-house campaigning in person, provided they observe the safe distancing precautions.
  • More opportunities will be in place for candidates to speak directly to voters on television, and online (for example via live streaming), to make up for the lack of physical election rallies due to COVID-19 measures.

The Prime Minister noted: "Singapore is not the first to hold an election during COVID-19. Others have done so too: South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries. With our arrangements and precautions in place, I am confident we can hold a proper and safe election."

The Government will continue to govern, businesses, workers and families will continue to receive help and support

During these uncertain times, many businesses are relying on government support through measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme. Even after Parliament is dissolved, these support measures will still continue. 

Prime Minister Lee emphasised that during the election period, the Government will continue to govern. "The Cabinet remains in charge even after Parliament is dissolved. The public service will function normally. This is so in every General Election. But I particularly emphasise this now, because of the vital importance of ongoing operations against COVID-19, sustaining the economy and protecting jobs," he said.

He assured Singaporeans that over the next few weeks, the Ministerial Task Force will still lead the country's response to COVID-19 and the National Jobs Council will continue creating jobs and training places.

He said: "Businesses, workers and families will receive help and support. All this essential work, on your behalf, will go on uninterrupted throughout the election period."

He concluded by highlighting the importance of the General Election and the issues at stake. "The government that you elect will have critical decisions to make. These decisions will impact your lives and livelihoods, and shape Singapore for many years to come, far beyond the five-year term of the next government."

Summing up his address in a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee expressed confidence in Singaporeans to "think carefully, and vote wisely, to secure our lives, our jobs and our future."

Photo / iStock