Singapore GE: SDP says now is not the time to proceed with the election

(From left) Singapore Democratic Party’s Ms Suraya Akbar, Mr John Tan, Mr Gerald Sng, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Khung Wai Yeen, Mr Benjamin Pwee, Ms Wong Souk Yee and Ms Yeo Poh Hong meeting the media at Dhoby Ghaut Xchange on March 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan has urged the Government not to hold the general election until "there are clear signs" that the coronavirus outbreak has been contained or has abated.

With the electoral boundaries report released on Friday (March 13), there are expectations the next poll could be held soon.

Dr Chee said it would be "socially irresponsible" to proceed with it given that the outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Speaking to reporters outside the Bloodbank @ Dhoby Ghaut on Saturday morning (March 14), Dr Chee, who was flanked by senior party members, said: "A couple of weeks ago, we were down to one, two, three, zero cases (of new infections) I saw on one day. And all of a sudden, because of the Jurong cluster, we had things bouncing right back up again."

On March 9, it was reported that the Safra Jurong cluster, which stemmed from a dinner function, was then the largest with 36 cases.

"Now is not the time to take your eye off the ball," said Dr Chee, who was at the blood bank with party members to donate blood.

Unlike some scheduled international sporting events like football and motor racing, which have been postponed or cancelled, Dr Chee said there was still time to hold Singapore's general election.

The general election must be held by April 2021.

Dr Chee said there will be major concerns if it were to proceed.

Voters would be in close proximity to others at polling stations and at rallies. Officials involved in vote counting would have to manually deal with the ballot papers, he said.

He reiterated that state resources should be focused on conquering and arresting the outbreak to allow Singaporeans to get back to normal life.

"How is all this going to play out?" said Dr Chee. "So we don't accept that this (general election) has to go on. And we want to maintain this line and tell the government that this is a very serious situation. If this continues to worsen, the PAP (People's Action Party) will be held responsible for this continued outbreak."

The SDP's activities have also been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. It has decided to hold off its 40th anniversary celebrations, initially planned for the end of this month.

Nevertheless, the party still continues to engage the public via social media.

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