Singapore

Late announcement of PAP’s new candidates due to pandemic

The ruling People's Action Party finalised its line-up of new candidates "very late" for this general election.

The Covid-19 outbreak also caused the party to delay introducing its 27 new faces to people until last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

It did so in quick succession over three days last week, after the Writ of Election was issued.

"In the last few months, we have been busy with Covid-19 and I think if we had gone ahead and announced candidates formally in the middle of Covid-19, while we are doing a circuit breaker and other very major policy measures to keep Singaporeans safe, people will misunderstand, accuse us of politicking away, and not keeping our eyes on the ball," he said.

Still, the PAP had placed potential candidates on the ground in various constituencies to gain experience.

"So I don't think that very many of our candidates were a surprise," Mr Lee said at a virtual press conference yesterday, after nominations for the polls closed.

Speaking at the same event, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the Government's full attention had, in the past few months, been focused on managing the healthcare and economic threat posed by Covid-19.

"(Even though) we have been able to manage this so far, we should not be complacent. We must continue to keep our energies on it," he said.

Mr Lee also noted that owing to the safe distancing measures, the Internet and social media have become "a much bigger factor" this election.

One significant "downside" is that people can mobilise "overnight Internet storms", he said.

"It happens faster than people are able to digest and make sense of information and facts, and in an election that's a dangerous thing," he said.

Covid-19 also means that election rallies are not allowed this time, but Mr Lee said he hoped the additional television broadcasts for parties and candidates would give voters a good feel of them.

A new feature of this election is the constituency political broadcasts in which each candidate gets three minutes to speak. These will run from July 3 to 7, from 7pm onwards each day.

GENERAL ELECTION 2020