Election results may delay Singapore leadership handover, says political analyst

Caretaker DPM Heng Swee Keat (middle) and the PAP slate for East Coast GRC – Photo: HSK Facebook page
By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |

With the dust settles on the outcome of Singapore’s General Election 2020, let us look at how the results will impact the nation as it moves forward.

People’s Action Party (PAP), the only ruling party known to the electorate since Singapore gained independence, has once again won. In the 13th general elections, PAP grabbed 83 seats against Workers’ Party (WP) 10.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong went into the July 10 polls contesting his ninth general election, and his fourth as the PAP’s leader.

Along with him was his designated successor Heng Swee Keat and the younger so-called 4G or fourth generation ministers.

The polls were called as Singapore, along with nations the world over, are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

Asia Samachar talks to National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Political Science deputy head Prof Bilveer Singh, who is also the author of ‘Is the People’s Action Party Here to Stay?’ released last year. Here is the short Q&A with him.

What is your initial take on the results?

A relatively new ‘political Singapore’: a strong PAP mandate, a strong Opposition presence since 1965 and a public wanting a more politically diverse and balanced Parliament – long way to go but important at a time when political transition taking place in Singapore.

What should be the priority response from the PAP now that we have the outcome of GE2020?

Still measures to contain and overcome COVID-19 with massive socio-economic impact; the worst is yet to come and with increasing community infection, another lockdown is possible.

Is the present 4G leadership on board on safe grounds?

There is no safe ground in politics; Heng Swee Keat saved the PAP from losing another GRC in East Coast. It took a long time to get this leadership and the 2020 GE should not short circuit the 4G. It depends on when PM Lee Hsien Loong steps down, the key transition puzzle as he may delay it to hand over once the Covid-19 crisis is over.

Within the Sikh community, there was some discussion on the fact that there were no Sikh candidates from the ruling party. What is your view on this?

Yes, no Sikh though there are many capable ones around. The PAP focussed on Malay renewal but this government is not anti Sikh. Let’s pray for a future Sikh candidate.

What’s next for Singapore?

Next; how PAP responds to public grievances and assure public of jobs. For the Opposition – with Pritam Singh as the official Opposition Leader – to work as a public voice in and out of parliament. For the public, it is coming to terms with the political realities in a crisis landscape. It is difficult and challenging but Singapore is a ‘can do’ nation and people. We will cross the line successfully.

NUS’ Bilveer Singh (4th from left) when attending a conference in Kuala Lumpur in March 2019 – Photo: Asia Samachar


Pritam Singh leads a stronger Singapore opposition  (Asia Samachar, 11 June 2020)

Singapore ruling party is safe till 2030 (Asia Samachar, 30 June 2020)

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