So much has happened since 23 June when President Halimah dissolved the government and issued the Writ of Election. In just a short one week, we’ve witnessed the different political parties announce their prospective candidates, Lee Hsien Yang joined PSP and most notably, watched the whole Ivan Lim kerfuffle unfold and dramatically wither away.
What a week it has been. Today is 30 June 2020, Nomination Day, a day when prospective candidates submit their nomination papers, election deposits, and other relevant documents, all in a bid to uphold tenets of democracy.
In light of Nomination Day, here’s an exhaustive alternative A-Z guide of Singapore’s 2020 General Elections—26 different soundbites, facts and all there is to know about our 18th General Election.
A: Ang Mo Kio GRC
Formed in 1991, Ang Mo Kio GRC holds 180,186 votes, the largest number of voters in any constituency as of 15 April 2020. It is a six-member GRC and is currently led by our third Prime Minister and PAP Secretary-General, Lee Hsien Loong. This GRC was previously uncontested until 2006, where the Workers’ Party made their bid and lost. The Reform Party also contested against PAP in 2011 and 2015, but PAP reigned supreme both times by a clear landslide
B: Bendemeer Primary School
Bendemeer Primary School will be used as a nomination centre for the following participating constituencies: Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Jalan Besar GRC, Radin Mas SMC and, Tanjong Pagar GRC. I could not find a reason why schools are used as nomination centres, but one can make an educated guess and assume it’s because they are government buildings with a controlled environment, ensuring that nothing will be compromised on nomination day.
C: Chee Soon Juan
If you’re unfamiliar, Chee Soon Juan, a candidate from Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) made headlines after the police rejected his application for a “one-man public procession” on 24 June. Chee had intended to hold an event, “Walk The Talk”, where he would walk around our island to raise funds for his party. The reason the application was denied was due to a fear that crowds would gather as Chee held his event. A similar event also took place back in 2015.
D: Democratic Progress Party
The Democratic Progress Party (DPP) has quite a peculiar history. I’m sure you’ve heard that DPP dropped out of GE2020 to avoid three-cornered fights. DPP had also tried to set up a coalition with three other parties but never came to a formal agreement. Initially called United Front during its inception, it then changed its name to Singapore United Front to avoid confusion with another party, and finally settled on Democratic Progress Party in 1992. On top of an identity crisis, this party was sued for slander by Lee Kuan Yew until they were bankrupt.
Physical rallies will not be taking place because of the obvious—an infectious virus still roams amongst us. As such, the government has allowed e-rallies to take place instead. These rallies will take place between 1 July – 8 July and will cost S$107 for a three-hour slot. There will be three slots a day, taking place from 7 am – 10 am, 12 pm – 3 pm and, 7 pm – 10 pm.
Candidates will be able to apply for these time slots from 8 am – 1 pm the day before. Slots will be balloted if a particular timing is oversubscribed. Candidates can also campaign via live streaming on the platform of their choice outside of the provided venues and timeslots.
Grey is probably PAP’s second favourite colour. It is not campaigning period yet and so the display of flags in public comes under the purview of the Town Councils Act. This was an issue of contention after SDP pointed out that PAP had displayed flags in Marine Parade in the lead up to nomination day. A volunteer for the Marine Parade PAP branch office said that these flags were put in place for National Day Celebrations, something that has been done yearly.
Everyone’s favourite topic—Government Service Tax (GST). Currently, our GST stands at 7%. Previously, in Budget 2018, our ruling government had intended for the tax to be increased to 9%. This is still the case according to PAP’s manifesto which mentioned that GST will be raised to 9% after 2022. Reform Party, on the other hand, would suspend a GST hike for the next one and a half years as per their manifesto while The Singapore People’s Party (SPP) manifesto holds the belief that GST should be held at 7%.
H: Hougang SMC
The Hougang Single Member Constituency is best known for being a Workers’ Party stronghold and is the current longest-held opposition ward. PAP won this seat only once in the 1988 GE. WP’s Yaw Shin Leong represented Hougang SMC in 2011 but was expelled over his extramarital kerfuffle in 2012. A by-election was called and Png Eng Huat managed to hone WP’s presence in the 2012 by-election.
I: Ivan Lim
The decimation of Ivan Lim’s character is perhaps the spiciest thing that has happened so far in the world of GE news. From Heng Swee Kiat urging Ivan Lim to clarify his comments to Ivan Lim standing his ground which led to him dropping out of the race, DPM Heng has called this incident “regrettable” while National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that there is “no time to do a proper and full investigation”. His seat is replaced by Xia Yao Quan, head of healthcare redesign at Alexandra Hospital.
Kenneth Jeyaretnam is Reform Party’s Secretary-General and has recently returned from Britain. He tried to waive his 14-day SHN but of course, MOH predictably denied his request, stating that like all other Singaporeans returning from the U.K., he too must serve his mandated stay-home-notice. Jeyaretnam would be able to authorise a representative to deliver his nomination papers and can also apply for his Political Donation Certificate, Minority Certificate, and pay his election deposit online at the Elections Department’s website.
K: Kebun Baru SMC
No, you’re not the only one caught unaware that Kebun Baru SMC existed. Kebun Baru SMC is located in Ang Mo Kio and only existed between 1980 and 1991. It is being reintroduced as an SMC seat after 29 years for GE2020. During its 11 years stint, this SMC was held by PAP, with it being a three-party fight in 1980 by PAP, United Front (now DDP) and the now inactive United People’s Front.
L: Lee Hsien Yang
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have caught wind of Lee Hsien Yang joining the Progress Singapore Party (PSP). Both PM Lee and Lee Hsien Yang have stated that this election is not about family disputes with PM Lee saying that it is “within Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s rights as a citizen” to join any political party.
M: Military People
At this point, I’m sure we’re all familiar with PAP’s modus operandi—part of it includes introducing some high ranking officer from the SAF as some of their candidates. This year, other than golden boy Desmond Tan, Gan Siow Huang, Singapore’s first female general wants people to know that she is more than the position she once held. “Don’t stereotype military people,” Gan responded when asked how she differed from those before her. PAP is not the only party with female SAF officers, PSP’s Kala Manickam was in SAF’s pioneer batch of female commissioned officers and served the armed forces for seven years.
N: National Solidarity Party
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) was founded in 1987 and has never won any seats in any election. NSP was once part of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)—an alliance of opposition parties formed in 2001. NSP withdrew from SDA in 2007 citing the need for reform. NSP had quite the episode in the 2015 elections where the failure of a collective party direction led to many party members resigning from NSP, including Nicole Seah who is now part of WP.
Opposition parties are integral to Singapore’s democracy. In the recently dissolved 13th Parliament of Singapore, only six out of the 89 seats belonged to the opposition party—the Workers’ Party. Opposition parties may exist, but that does not mean that they will hold a seat in Parliament. If we want to see more discourse in our Parliament, it is up to the people to tip the supermajority that PAP has long held since independence.
P: Political Attacks
Unlike the U.S. where political attack advertisements are the norm, Singapore does not stand for outright slander but rather operates in more subdued ways. Remember Tan Wu Meng’s whole spiel on how WP leader “Mr Pritam Singh supports Alfian Sa’at”? TLDR: Tan, MP for Jurong GRC wrote an ‘opinion’ piece on how the WP leader supports Alfian Sa’at, a Singaporean writer with very provocative nationalistic views, simply because Singh used the phrase “loving critics among us”.
Q: LGBTQ Report Card
LGBTQ rights group, Sayoni published a local scorecard report of politicians’ positions on LGBTQ issues in Singapore. Titled, Rainbow Scorecard, Review of the Decade, Sayoni ranked these politicians on a myriad of factors, such as Engagement with LGBTQ Groups and Affirmative Inclusion of LGBTQ Issues. Top of the list, receiving an A was Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. On the end of the spectrum, receiving an F was People’s Power Party Leader, Goh Meng Seng.
R: Retiring Ministers
Out with the old and in with the new. A number of politicians have announced their retirement after the dissolution of parliament. A total of 20 PAP MPs are going to retire, some of which include, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and, seven-time MP and Deputy Speaker, Charles Chong.
In politics, a supermajority means that one single political party occupies more than the majority seats in Parliament. PAP has held a supermajority in parliament since the 1959 General Elections. For opposition parties to prove themselves and make significant changes for Singaporeans it is important that no party holds a supermajority. A lack of supermajority will also make it harder to change the constitution, forcing parties to work together and have proper debates before any changes can be made. This year, a total of 93 seats are up for election and for a supermajority to take place, 47 of those 93 seats must be occupied by PAP.
T: Tan Cheng Bock
The legendary Tan Cheng Bock, at the ripe age of 80, has lived a life of politics. Tan made his political foray in the 1980s with PAP and served as MP for Ayer Rajah SMC from December 1980 to May 2006. He also served a multitude of Chairman roles for PAP during his time with the ruling party. In 2011, he lost the Presidential Elections by a mere 0.35% to Tony Tan. He is currently the Secretary-General of the Progress Singapore Party
U: Uphill Battle
This uphill battle will be for SPP, who intends to contest in Potong Pasir SMC for the first time without Chiam See Tong’s leadership, who stepped down from the Secretary-General post in 2019, citing his declining health. From 1984 to 2006, Potong Pasir SMC had been under Chiam’s leadership, but since 2011, PAP’s Sitoh Yih Pin had carried the torch after Chiam. Analysts believe that SPP has been making good headway in terms of outreach as their representative, Jose Raymond has been walking the ground amongst the community since 2017.
V: Voting Age
Now, this is an interesting one. According to SPP’s manifesto, other than wanting to hold GST at 7%, they also believe that the voting age should be lowered to 18 years old. The current voting age is 21 years old.
“The current age of 21 is arbitrary and disenfranchises many young people. By most, if not all, definitions, an 18-year-old is an adult.”
As a 23-year-old who will be voting for the first time, I don’t believe 18-year-olds should be allowed to vote. Most at that age are only starting to understand themselves, and having the burden of voting at that age is unnecessary and reckless.
W: Workers’ Party
The Workers’ Party is the only party that has held seats in the 13th Parliament of Singapore. WP was founded by David Marshal in 1957, 8 years before our nation’s independence. To date, WP has introduced a total of 9 newcomers for this election and intends to contest in four GRCs and two SMCs.
Xenophobia by definition reads, “dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries” The topic of xenophobia came about when PAP’s GE 2020 candidate Shawn Huang responded to debate on why he changed his surname from Ingkiriwang to Huang. Netizens claimed that he had been “ashamed of his Indonesian-Chinese roots”.
When asked by a reporter, Huang explained that his family name has always been Huang and added that his great-grandfather had used the surname Ingkiriwang when he was in Indonesia but his parents decided to stay true to their heritage and roots and go by the surname Huang instead.
This is interesting considering that he had been addressed as “MAJ Ingkiriwang Shawn” in a Facebook post by the RSAF. Is he not confident enough running as Ingkiriwang and had to water down his surname to appear more approachable? One thing we all know is that PAP has appearances to keep up, so I would not be surprised if this was all for PR.
Y: Yio Chu Kang SMC
Yio Chu Kang SMC was originally sculpted out of Nee Soon and Ang Mo Kio constituencies in 1980 and merged into Ang Mo Kio GRC in 1991. Yio Chu Kang SMC has quite the yo-yo lifespan, with it being made an SMC on its own in the 2006 GE, but only for it to be reabsorbed into the Ang Mo Kio GRC in the 2011 GE. Now, Yio Chu Kang SMC is carved out again for this year’s elections.
Z: Generation Z
Generation Z represents those who were born between 1996 and 2010. Those born in Gen Z, such as myself, would be voting for the first time during GE 2020. Since the young age of 13, I’ve always paid attention to local politics and pondered on how my first voting experience would occur. And for it to happen amidst a pandemic will definitely be an unforgettable one.
I am privileged to be given this chance as a writer with a platform to share my views and opinions, and once again, I would like to encourage everyone voting to make an informed choice and that your vote is the key to the change you want to see.
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