As Singapore gears up for general elections, parties are trying hard to convince people about their agendas and the ability of candidates to deliver. Amid campaigning, the debate on national television involving representatives of major political parties of the island republic is being slammed as unfair.
Netizens are taking to Twitter to troll the Singapore ruling People's Action Party's (PAP) Vivian Balakrishnan. They are criticizing the debate for what they see as unfair treatment given to candidates of other parties including the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Workers' Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
PAP Favored During National TV Debate?
Twitter is abuzz with posts that Balakrishnan was given 4.5 minutes to answer a question on a debate, whereas candidates of other parties were barely given 1.5 minutes to speak. Because of this, Singapore Votes 2020 – The Political Debate, is being trolled on social media.
This has also resulted in Balakrishnan trending on Twitter. The one-hour-long debate streaming live on national TV in English and Mandarin is currently the most watched program in Singapore.
"The PAP's Vivian gets 4.5 mins to speak slower and give more examples while the opposition reps have to rush with their 1.5 mins each and give the perception of being less prepared & more anxious," said a Twitter user, public policy researcher Dhevarajan Devadas.
Raising similar concerns, another user, Simarpreet Kaur, wrote: "Why is this called a debate when there're zero chances for opposition parties to reply to Vivian, and that Vivian gets the most time and the final say?"
Apart from PAP's Vivian, SDP's Chee Soon Juan, WP's Jamus Lim, and PSP's Francis Yuen took part in the debate. The PAP has fielded 93 candidates, PSP 24, WP 21, and SDP 11 for the July 10 elections.
During his allotted time, Vivian was able to explain what the PAP has done for the people so far. Though Jamus tried to speak about what his party, the WP, is aiming at for the future of the country, he couldn't go into details because of time constraint.
Chee Soon could only speak about what other parties did in the past and before he could start speaking about the present, his time was up. Francis Yuen of PSP looked lost during the debate.
Another factor mentioned by netizens was that there were two segments in the debate and in both, Vivian had the last word.
Who is Vivian Balakrishnan?
Balakrishnan is the PAP MP, serving as minister for foreign affairs since 2015 and minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Program Office initiative. He represents Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency for Cashew.
Balakrishnan pursued medicine at the National University of Singapore on a President's Scholarship. After serving in various capacities in the medical field, Balakrishnan's team was elected uncontested in 2004 when Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as Singapore's third prime minister. In the previous election in 2015, his team consisting of Liang Eng Hwa, Christopher de Souza and Sim Ann defeated Singapore Democratic Party candidates with 66.62 percent vote.