Singapore heads for snap controversial elections despite coronavirus pandemic

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jun 26, 2020, 11:02 PM(IST)

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Lee Hsien Yang on Wednesday formally joined a new opposition party -- Progress Singapore Party (PSP) -- competing against his brother Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party, which has ruled the city-state since its independence since 1965.

A public rift between the heirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s modern day founder, has shot to the fore with the prospect of his two sons squaring off at a July 10 general election.

Lee Hsien Yang on Wednesday formally joined a new opposition party -- Progress Singapore Party (PSP) -- competing against his brother Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party, which has ruled the city-state since its independence since 1965.

The PSP is led by Tan Cheng Bock, a former PAP lawmaker who shot to prominence by nearly defeating a candidate backed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the 2011 presidential race.

The move comes amid a long-standing and bitter dispute between the siblings centred around what to do with their late father’s house - demolish it, or let the government decide whether to make it a heritage landmark.

On one side of the dispute stands the eldest son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 68, who believes the government must decide what should be done.

On the other are his siblings - Lee Hsien Yang and his sister Lee Wei Ling.

They say their father’s will stated the house should eventually be demolished after his death and they have accused Prime Minister Lee of wanting to preserve the house to build his own political capital.

The election is to be held on July 10, and candidates have to submit nomination papers on June 30.

The next general election could have been held as late as April 2021. But Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday it was not clear when the pandemic would end and his government needed a fresh mandate to steer Singapore through the social and economic challenges it posed.

Some opposition parties have opposed holding an election during the pandemic as detrimental to public health and distracting from government efforts to combat the virus.

Rights groups have also long criticised Singapore’s electoral process for favouring the ruling party.

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