Singapore's unicameral Parliament was dissolved on Tuesday, and the follow-up general election was set for May 7.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, seeking a popular mandate to constitute “the next A-Team for Singapore,” had earlier advised President S. R. Nathan to dissolve the House which came into being after the 2006 general election.
The long-governing People's Action Party (PAP) has dominated the political landscape since 1965 when the City-State came into being. But some opposition politicians have signalled readiness to try and ensure a more competitive election this time.
At stake now will be 87 seats. Voter strength is nearly 2.35 million. The new House will have 12 from single-member wards, with the others coming from 15 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). Mr. Lee recently defended the existing system of GRCs as the unique “guarantee” of at least “a minimum representation of minorities in Parliament.”
With an ethnic-Chinese majority, Singapore is also home to Malays and people of Indian origin as the main minorities. The GRCs were designed as multi-member constituencies, and the PAP has specialised in fielding minority candidates as part of the slates headed by major political players. However, opposition activists, most notably Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party and others, have taken the line that the two-decade-old system of GRCs is not the best means of empowering the minorities.
The key issues at the coming polls are expected to be the rising cost of living, particularly in regard to housing as also healthcare and higher education, besides the place of “foreign talent” and the related immigration policy.
Keywords: Singapore elections