Critical Singapore Elections ‘Soon,’ Says Prime Minister

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Critical Singapore Elections ‘Soon,’ Says Prime Minister

The city-state premier offers a further hint that polls will be held before too long.

Singapore will hold its next general election “soon,” its premier said Sunday, though he stopped short of mentioning a specific date for upcoming polls.

The city-state, which is celebrating 50 years of independence and saw its founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew pass away earlier this year, must hold elections by January 2017 (See: “How Do We Remember Lee Kuan Yew?”).

In a National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his son, hinted that “critical” elections would be called “soon.” Lee said that Singaporeans voting in the election would not only be selecting who would govern the country in the next few years, but would be setting the direction for the country in the next 50 years.

“Singapore is at a turning point,” Lee said. “Soon, I will be calling elections, to ask for your mandate to take Singapore into our next phase.

“The election will be critical. You will be deciding who is governing Singapore who is governing Singapore for the next five years – but much more than that, you will be choosing the team who will be working with you for the next 15 to 20 years. You will be setting the direction for Singapore for the next 50 years. You will be determining the future for Singapore.”

That future, Lee said, remains uncertain. Nobody can be sure, he emphasized, that Singapore will still be doing well a further 50 years down the line.

“What will this future be? Will Singapore become an ordinary country, with intractable problems, slow or even negative growth; overspending; heavy burdens for our children; gridlocked government; unable to act? There are so many examples around the world.”

“Or will Singapore always stay special for our children? A multi-racial society strengthened by diversity, not splintered by divisions.  A rugged society where everyone strives to do his best, but looks out for his fellow men, a people who live up to our song “One People, One Nation, One Singapore.”

As I have written previously, in line with the 50th anniversary and the upcoming elections, Singaporean officials, including Lee himself, have been laying out the potential challenges the city-state may face in the coming years and how it can overcome them (See: “Can Singapore Overcome its Future Challenges?”).

Lee’s party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), has governed Singapore since the country’s independence but saw its worst ever showing in the last general elections in 2011 when it garnered just 60.1 percent of the popular vote – which was interpreted as a sign that Singaporeans wanted a more responsive and inclusive government (See: “Singapore Faces Challenges Near and Far in Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era”). Some expect the PAP’s vote share to decline even further in the next election.