TV, online campaigning allowed for Presidential Election

The Prime Minister's Office releases guidelines for the Presidential Elections campaign. (Property images photo)The Prime Minister's Office releases guidelines for the Presidential Elections campaign. (Property images phot …

Candidates in Singapore's upcoming Presidential Election, due by 31 August, will be allowed to campaign through new media.

Each of them will also be given two blocks of 10 minutes of TV air time by MediaCorp,  the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said on Friday in a statement outlining the key elements of the presidential campaign.

The first broadcast for a presidential candidate will be aired the day after Nomination Day. The second broadcast will be aired on the eve of Polling Day, an exception to the cooling-off period where election advertising is not allowed.

The PMO said the Presidential Election campaign should "differ fundamentally" from the General Election campaign because of the different roles of the elected President and government.

Calling for the process to be "dignified and above the political fray", the PMO noted the President should have "the status of a person who has the direct mandate of the people to perform an important national function on their behalf".

The President's key role is to be the custodian of Singapore's reserves and ensure only people of integrity are appointed to key public sector jobs, said the PMO, adding that the President should not to support or oppose the government or advance his own agenda.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan and former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian are the presidential hopefuls to have filed their eligibility papers for the election. Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the third candidate, has yet to file his forms.

According to the PMO, MediaCorp will produce a TV profile of each candidate and broadcast a joint TV interview with all the candidates. Candidates will also be allowed to hold one rally at a designated location.

"TV will be a major medium of the campaign because of its wide reach at the national level. This medium will also allow voters to assess the candidates in a manner in keeping with the decorum and dignity of the office of President," the PMO said.

Films concerning the candidates or election remains subject to the restrictions of the Films Act. But individuals will be allowed to exhibit and distribute live recordings of lawful election activities on the Internet, so long as the film does not distort or dramatise the activity and the film is not materially altered, it said.

The PMO also cautioned political parties from using their party names and symbols in campaigning because the elected President is to be non-partisan.

Civic, business and professional bodies can endorse candidates but not carry out any activity aimed at promoting a candidate's election of defeat.

Under the Presidential Elections Act, candidates are allowed to spend 30 cents per registered voter or $600,000, whichever is greater.

Dr Tony Tan said he welcomed "clarity on the guidelines".

"I agree that the role of a President is fundamentally different from that of a Member of Parliament," he said in a statement.

"My campaign team and I look forward to working creatively and appropriately within the guidelines issued. Our goal for the campaign remains unchanged -- to reach out to all Singaporeans so that I may share their concerns and aspirations. That is why I seek to be of service to the nation again."

The Presidential Election is expected to be held in the last two weeks of August.

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