Singapore electoral boundary review could point to early polls

July 13, 2015

SINGAPORE  has launched a review of electoral constituency boundaries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told parliament
on Monday, July 13, in an announcement likely to raise speculation of an early election.

The next general election must be held by January 2017, but there has been speculation in the media and political blogs that it could be held as early as late this year, after celebrations for the 50th anniversary of independence
in August.

The People's Action Party, founded by Lee's father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, has ruled Singapore since independence but it won its lowest ever share of the vote in the last polls in 2011, with many people unhappy about the cost of living and immigration.

The prime minister said the government has formed an electoral boundaries review committee to redraw constituencies
and said the publication of its findings would not determine the timing of the next election.

"The committee will publish its report and, to the maximum extent possible, we will make sure that ... enough time elapses so that everybody can read the report, understand it, and know where they stand before the elections are called," he said.

"But I don't think it is possible to say that we promise a certain minimum period, such as six months, because it depends very much on the exigencies of the situation, and depends on when elections become necessary."

Analysts have speculated the government might want to take advantage of a feel-good factor over the 50th anniversary of independence on Aug. 9 which will be marked with much fanfare.

The legacy of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died on March 23, is also fresh in the minds of  voters.

Lee oversaw the city-state's rapid rise from a British colonial backwater to a global trade and financial centre and his death triggered a flood of tributes.

In his lifetime, the elder Lee drew praise for his market-friendly policies, but also criticism at home and abroad for his strict controls over the press, public protest and political opponents.

Reporting by Rujun Shen