Forum: Time now to focus on outbreak rather than think of election

People wearing masks outside The Heeren at Orchard Road on March 5, 2020.
People wearing masks outside The Heeren at Orchard Road on March 5, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The sudden emergence of the Covid-19 epidemic, which has now become a pandemic, is to many of us a surreal event. Testing kits, hospital admissions, stay-home notices, quarantine and social distancing are becoming everyday terms. Working from home, unpaid leave and job losses are upon us.

We are also seeing the closure of entertainment spaces, religious establishments and tuition centres. We are constantly being reminded not to be complacent in our vigil against the coronavirus.

In the midst of this psychological and economic stress and insecurity, there is something even more surreal happening - the introduction of potential candidates for the next general election.

We see pictures of smiling people in political office standing less than 1m from other smiling new prospective politicians. We also read reports of the drawing-up of new electoral boundaries and the possibility of the next general election soon.

There is an incongruity between the existing pandemic, which has been likened to a war situation, and our government leaders discussing the possibility of holding a general election soon, which entails the introduction of new candidates and doing house visits, albeit in smaller numbers.

Is this not the time to restrict all our minds, resources and energies to combating this "coro war" and ensuring that people's health and welfare are being safeguarded?

The PAP has been in power since 1959 and has done many things right to make us the thriving city-state that we are. The 2G, 3G and 4G leaders are in power and, together with businesses, civil society and the people of Singapore, we will see the end of this health and economic crisis.

Even in Hubei, life is slowly returning to normalcy. Of course, we cannot pinpoint exactly the end of the pandemic but, surely, we can afford to wait till the end of the year before we entertain thoughts of elections and electioneering.

Surely, the incumbent government feels secure enough to carry on without seeking a new mandate at this precarious juncture of our nation's existence.

As a medical doctor, my concern, like others of the same profession, is for the health and safety of our people. There are many medical specialists within the ruling party; for the sake of the welfare of the citizens of Singapore, could they not become the voices of experience and conscience to counter the voices of expediency?

Kanwaljit Soin (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Time now to focus on outbreak rather than think of election'. Subscribe