Lee Hsien Loong calls for general election

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation today.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation today.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong formally called for a general election to take place during an address to the nation this afternoon.

Lee said he had met with President Halimah Yacob to advise her to dissolve parliament and issue the writ of election. He noted that under the constitution, the next general election must take place no later than April 2021, which is “less than a year away.”

The leader of the People’s Action Party, which has ruled without interruption since the nation gained independence, said he decided to call for elections now while “things are relatively stable,” adding that there was no assurance the pandemic would be over before the current government’s term ends.

He also said that he was “satisfied” with the special considerations in place to make sure the elections can go on safely, citing additional polling stations to reduce crowding and television airtime for candidates due to the lack of physical rallies.

Turning to the coronavirus, he said Singapore was still in “the beginning phase.”

“COVID-19 will be with us for at least a year and most probably longer until a vaccine is developed,” he said. He also outlined the challenges the nation faces in his Tuesday address, which took on a campaign tone as he called for the need for a government with broad support.

“To overcome these challenges we must stand completely united as one people,” he said. “Singaporeans and the government must work closely together with full trust and confidence in each other … We need a capable Government, with the strong backing of the people, to do all that needs to be done on your behalf, and see us through the tumultuous times.”

Responding to Lee’s announcement, opposition leader Pritam Singh said: “Parliament dissolved: It was our privilege to serve you. Until we meet again.”

Nomination Day is set to take place on June 30 and Polling Day on July 10.


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