Electoral boundaries report

Release of report not correlated to GE date: Chan

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Singapore Zoo on March 14, 2020.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Singapore Zoo on March 14, 2020.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Focus now is on managing health situation well, says Trade and Industry Minister

The release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report is not correlated to the election date, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

"Our focus at this point in time is to make sure that we manage the health situation well so that the lives of Singaporeans are well taken care of," he said. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."

He added: "Whenever the time comes for the next general election, Singaporeans will be wise enough to make the decision as to which is the team that had been serving them consistently, which is the team that is best placed to take care of their lives and livelihoods of Singaporeans going forward."

He was responding to questions about the EBRC report and the GE from journalists on the sidelines of an event at the Singapore Zoo.

Among other things, the report, which was released on Friday, increased the number of elected MPs in Parliament by four and shrank the largest group representation constituencies from six-member to five-member constituencies.

Single-member constituencies (SMC) Sengkang West, Fengshan and Punggol East were also removed although the total number of SMCs went up by one.

In 2015, the EBRC report was published on July 24 and Parliament was dissolved the next month. The general election (GE) took place on Sept 11. In 2011, the report was published on Feb 24, and the elections were held on May 7.

The next GE must be held by April next year.

Opposition parties criticised the report's release on Friday, and urged Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong not to hold the elections in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Chan, who is also second assistant secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party, said that PM Lee will make the call on when the GE will be, adding that the Government's focus is on "creating conditions for our eventual recovery".

He said Singapore should focus on making sure that it is one of the first countries in the world - if not the first - to "make it out of the blocks" when the dust settles on the outbreak, he added.

 
 
 
 

"They are all looking at how a society, how a government responds to a situation, whether they are just tackling the here and now or are they not only tackling the here and now, but (also) putting in place foundations for the future success of a country," Mr Chan said.

"And, if we do this well, if we maintain our psychological resilience, our social cohesion, the efficiency and effectiveness of us as a society, then we will truly be able to distinguish ourselves well," he added.

"We are focused on those things, and I think whenever the Prime Minister makes the decision, that is his prerogative, but in the meantime we stay focused on what we need to do to help fellow Singaporeans."

He also said the Covid-19 outbreak presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the country.

"In the past, if people just looked at the supply chain from a pure price perspective, then we might be priced out," Mr Chan said.

But companies are looking at fortifying their supply chains at places that are trusted hubs and allow them to have business continuity, he added.

"These actually all play to our advantage so we should capitalise on this, position ourselves well," he said. "But first and foremost, before we get there, we must make sure that our companies continue to survive and do well and we must make sure that the jobs of our people are sustained."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 15, 2020, with the headline 'Release of report not correlated to GE date: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe