SINGAPORE - The next election could feature campaign speeches streamed live online and safe distancing measures at voting stations, said Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, noting that necessary precautions would be taken whenever polls are held.
Responding to a question in Parliament from Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) on how to hold elections safely, Mr Teo said that the next elections could be unlike previous ones.
"Covid-19 has created a new normal," he said. "Whether elections are held early or later, we will still have to work on the basis that the next elections will necessarily be different from past elections. This means that the necessary extra safeguards and precautions must and will be taken whether the elections are held early or held later."
He stressed that an election would not get in the way of any of the measures - including travel restrictions, quarantine, social distancing and workplace measures - put in place in recent weeks to fight the virus.
"If an election happens, it will not disrupt any of this. All these necessary measures will still be maintained," he said.
Mr Teo said that for example, for campaigning, there could be live streaming of speeches on the Internet and adequate TV time for candidates. For voting, he noted that Singapore already has special express lanes for seniors and those who need them.
Additionally, there could be measures such as social distancing while queueing, proper hand hygiene for voting paraphernalia, and hand sanitisers for voters.
"We will learn from the experiences of other countries that are holding elections even during this ongoing Covid-19 outbreak," said Mr Teo.
"All these measures and precautions are required to protect Singaporeans. Whatever measures taken will affect all political parties equally."
In Parliament on Wednesday, Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), also asked Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong if the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 outbreak will be announcing measures that all political parties can keep in mind as they step up activities to reach out to voters.
"Since the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report, I think it's quite apparent to a lot of Singaporeans that political parties have stepped up their political outreach, and the concern in view of yesterday's announcement is that some of these outreach activities can easily lead to the formation of large social gatherings in excess of 10 individuals in close proximity to each other," said Mr Singh.
Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the task force, said: "The task force is quite clear in putting out these measures, that we want to restrict any form of activity that brings about congregations of more than 10 persons."
He said that the guideline applies to all organisations and political parties, and all political parties in or outside of Parliament will "have to abide by these guidelines and make adjustments to their activities".