Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday gave the strongest hint yet that the General Election (GE) is imminent, and could be held before it is due by January 2017.
During a radio call-in programme on Chinese-language station Capital 95.8FM, Mr Lee was asked by presenter Gao Yixin when the next GE will be held. In response, Mr Lee used the analogy of a pregnancy, and said the timing of the GE is unlike giving birth where there is some predictability when the child will be born.
Borrowing Mr Lee’s analogy, Ms Gao asked if “a baby has been conceived”. To which, Mr Lee said, smiling: “The baby has already been conceived earlier on.”
Turning to his message to voters, Mr Lee said leadership renewal has always been an important issue raised during previous GEs and the coming elections will not be an exception, which is why Singaporeans should not take the elections lightly.
To vote based on the assumption that the People’s Action Party will form the Government, and, therefore, think about giving away some seats to the Opposition “is a dangerous thinking”, he added.
Reiterating a message to party activists at the PAP60 Rally in December that the next GE will be a “deadly serious fight”, Mr Lee said: “I think the Opposition will contest in every GRC in the upcoming elections, unlike in previous GEs where many areas were not contested. In such a situation, every vote is important, every Singaporean’s decision has an impact, we have to consider it carefully.”
Asked if a new batch of leaders will be introduced at the coming polls, Mr Lee said about half of these leaders have been introduced in the 2011 GE. More potential candidates for ministerial positions will be among the newcomers introduced at the next elections, he added.
Mr Lee also noted how the times have changed and Singapore can no longer be ruled under a “parenting-style” leadership. Instead, Singaporeans should be involved and discuss national issues, he said.
He also said the Government had not expected the outpouring of grief when founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died in March.
In particular, he said he was surprised at the reaction from the younger generation, given that they did not have as much interaction with the late Mr Lee as the older generations did.
During the one-hour radio show, Mr Lee took questions from eight callers on topics ranging from parents’ stress about the PSLE, to ways to change society’s mindset about pursuing degrees and graciousness in Singapore.
Mr Lee’s hints of the timing of the next elections come after two research firms released reports last week, saying a GE is likely to be held this year.
BMI Research said the People’s Action Party may look to hold elections before the next Budget is introduced and possibly before the end of the year.
Blackbox Research also said in its bulletin last month that “there has not been a better time for the PAP to begin planning for an early election”, reporting that overall satisfaction with the Government has risen eight points from a year ago.