Think Centre forecast cost of living as the key election issue all parties will debate and recommend changes to better living and working conditions. High cost of living remains with much suffering for all families.
SINGAPORE, April 19, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore called for a general election on May 7 as the ruling People's Action Party seeks to win a new mandate after steering the city-state to a strong rebound from the recent global recession.
President S.R. Nathan dissolved parliament on Tuesday, clearing the way for the polls, which under the constitution must be held within three months of the dissolution.
"The president, on the advice of the prime minister, has dissolved parliament on Tuesday, 19 April 2011," a government statement said.
The last general election was held in May 2006 in which Lee's ruling People Action Party (PAP) won all but two of the 84 parliamentary seats.
Despite the landslide its share of the popular vote fell to 67 percent from the 75 percent it garnered during the previous election in 2001.
Analysts have said that rising living costs and unhappiness over the influx of foreign workers are likely to be the key issues at the polls.
Singapore's economy rebounded strongly from the 2008 and 2009 global recession to post Asia's fastest growth rate in 2010 at 14.5 percent.
But food costs have been rising and property prices heating up, prompting the government to introduce a series of measures to cool down the housing market.
"The key issue will be the cost of living," said Sinapan Samydorai, (Director) of the civil society group Think Centre.
"Even though the economic recovery has come, it has not impacted them (Singaporeans) in a positive way. They are suffering because of the high cost of living, it is tougher for them to make a living," he told AFP.
In addition, lower-skilled Singaporean workers have been complaining that the government's policy on foreign labour has led to jobs being taken away from its citizens.
Singapore had a total population of 5.076 million as of June 2010, including 541,000 permanent residents and 1.305 million foreigners on employment passes, along with their families.
Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong in remarks published Tuesday acknowledged that the electoral ground "may not be sweet" for the ruling party this time.
"But can you sweeten the ground by having more opposition in parliament?" he was quoted in the Straits Times as saying, in reaction to calls to have more opposition members elected to the legislature.
Samydorai said Goh's remarks showed the ruling party is prepared for a possible further drop in its share of the popular vote.
The city-state's fragmented political opposition has said it will put up a good fight.
Singapore is admired worldwide for its speedy rise from a third world port to one of Asia's richest nations in just over 30 years, but it has also been criticised for restricting political freedoms.
Faced with little opposition, the PAP has been returned to power in every election since 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule from Britain.
Lee, 59, son of former prime minister and elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew, will be leading the PAP in political battle for the second time since taking office in August 2004.
Sources and Relevant Links:
AFP Singapore to hold general election on May 7 19-04-2011
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