Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the announcement that there will be an extra day of non-campaigning just before Polling Day. The deal was that this would act as a cooling-off period ahead of the General Election. The ‘proposed’ extra day of non-campaigning will also apply to a presidential election.
Now this isn’t new. A lot of countries have blackout days before the election itself, so it’s no big deal for Singapore to have one also. That unfortunately is my biggest gripe about the new rule. I am meeting this new rule with puzzlement because I fail to understand why this rule is needed in Singapore. For the past several elections, the Singapore opposition had been under the self-defeating by-election strategy (which doesn’t work by the way) so in over half of Singapore, there’s no voting!
Why do we need a cooling-off period when there's no voting in over half the country? PM Lee say the extra day “would give voters time to reflect rationally on issues, after the emotional high of election campaigning”. What emotional high? In other countries, elections are exciting; in Singapore, it’s boring.
With almost every Singaporeans believing this new rule is unnecessary, some had said that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) are putting in this rule to give them an extra day of campaigning. However I do not believe this to be true. Like I said earlier, most Singaporeans don’t care that much about elections that one lousy day of campaigning will make any difference. The PAP will not benefit from the extra day.
So in the end, how would this cooling-off period affect the General Election? It would affect absolutely nothing!