Singapore’s Election Campaigns to Focus on Jobs Amid Pandemic

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a debate that 60,000 foreigners lost their jobs in the first five months of this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Balakrishnan’s comments, in response to the opposition Singapore Democratic Party’s Chee Soon Juan pushing for fewer foreign workers, come as the ruling People’s Action Party defends its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic slowdown. Balakrishnan, Chee and two other opposition party members debated late Wednesday, the first full day after nominations, as campaigning began.

The PAP has won every election in Singapore since independence, never with less than 60% of the vote. Election day is July 10.

Here are other comments made during the debate.

45,239 in U.S.Most new cases today

-8% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​055 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


  • Balakrishnan said that Singapore wouldn’t have a population of 10 million, refuting what he called a false claim by the opposition.
    • The island-state currently has about 5.7 million people, about 3.5 million of whom are citizens. A population increase to 10 million would almost certainly require an increased number of foreign workers.
    • Opposition to a large influx of foreign workers, who would compete with locals especially for professional and technical jobs, has been a key talking point for several opposition parties in the run-up to the polls.
  • Balakrishnan noted the various government-backed support schemes and initiatives implemented during the pandemic, adding that the focus of the ruling party’s campaign was jobs.
    • During the two-month circuit breaker, in effect the government was paying three quarters of the median wage of Singaporeans, he said.

Related: Singapore Voters on Virus Stay-Home Notice Get One Hour at Polls

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