SINGAPORE — With Singaporeans set to go to the polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic, e-rallies, online campaigning and socially distanced walkabouts will be the order of the day, as the Elections Department (ELD) reminded candidates and voters on Wednesday (24 June) of the guidelines for safe campaigning.
With the dissolution of Parliament on Tuesday, Polling Day is set for 10 July, while Nomination Day will take place on 30 June.
The ELD announced last week that, for the first time, there will be no physical rallies, and the cap of five persons per group must be observed during walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning. There will be no handshakes or kissing of babies either, as candidates are advised to keep their distance from voters.
Even nomination centres, traditionally colourful and raucous gathering places for the respective political parties, will be closed to supporters. Only candidates and their entourages, election officials and the media will be allowed limited access. Thank-you speeches by candidates will be broadcast on TV and the Internet.
Nomination proceedings will begin at 10am, while election officials will stop accepting nominations at noon. Temperature and security screenings will be carried out.
Nomination papers must be delivered in duplicate to the Returning Officer at the respective nomination centres.
Aspiring candidates will not need to be physically present at nomination proceedings if they are ill or subject to quarantine orders. An authorised representative can do so on his or her behalf.
Candidates are strongly encouraged to process election matters online, such as appointing an election agent and applying for a political donation certificate. These will largely be processed by the next working day, except for applications for minority community certificates.
The election deposit of $13,500 still applies for each candidate. This will only be returned if the candidate garners at least 12.5 per cent of the vote.
Party and constituency political broadcasts, e-rallies
Television airtime will be given to candidates to reach out to voters at the national level.
Two Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs) will be aired across 19 TV and radio channels on 2 and 9 July. Only political parties that field at least six candidates under a recognised party symbol are eligible for PPBs, and eligible political parties will be informed of their allocated time on Nomination Day.
For Constituency Political Broadcasts (CPBs), each candidate contesting in a Single Member Constituency (SMC) will be given 3 minutes of airtime, while each group of candidates contesting in a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) will be given 12 minutes or 15 minutes respectively, depending on whether it is a 4- or 5-member GRC.
The CPBs will be aired on Channel 5, starting from 3 July.
Candidates can also apply to use venues (up to 10 venues a day) provided by the government for live streaming from 1 to 8 July. There are three timeslots: 7-10am,12-3pm and 7-10pm
Candidates may submit one application for each timeslot in a day from 30 June via Candidate Services on ELD Website. Each timeslot will cost $107.
Candidates will only be provided power, internet connectivity and basic furnishings in the venues. Candidates must make their own arrangements for live streaming at the site and ensure successful delivery of their own livestreams.
Safe campaigning guidelines
In addition to the rule of five, a safe distance of at least one metre must be maintained by candidates with members of the public, during interactions. Any interactions should be transient and avoid physical contact. (e.g. fist bumps, high fives).
Masks must be worn properly at all times i.e. covering the nose and mouth fully, with exceptions such as when eating/drinking. Masks cannot be removed for the purpose of taking photographs, or for the sole purpose of talking to others.
Candidates and their party members should, as a best practice, keep wearing masks even while speaking on- screen for programmes for broadcast over TV, radio or digital media, such as for a doorstop interview or self-recording.
However, they may remove masks during the recording for a short duration i.e. a few minutes, should this take place in a setting where safe management measures are in place.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (23 June) urged Singaporeans to “stand completely united” as he called for a snap election that is “like no other” amid the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other developments.
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