WP calls for release of GE campaigning rules, SDP urges equal media access

A resident casts his vote at a polling station on 11 September 2015 in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party (WP) has called for clarity on electoral campaigning rules after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the General Election (GE) should be held soon.

The statement by WP on Thursday (28 May) comes a day after Heng said in a CNA interview that the sooner the next GE is held, the sooner Singaporeans can come together to tackle issues and uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WP noted that there has been no clarity to date on how campaigning will be changed in view of the pandemic.

“Several ministers have made vague and unspecific comments since March that campaign methods would need to be modified. However, despite the (Workers’) Party’s calls, there has been no definitive announcement by the Elections Department on these anticipated changes,” the WP said.

FILE PHOTO: Elections Department

Given the uncertainty, political parties risk squandering resources and expenditures, the opposition party added. 

The WP cited the streaming of videos, saying there is no information about how such content will be regulated. With the GE getting nearer, WP said the window of time is “narrowing” for it to find suitable service providers.

Calling for the campaigning rules to be released as soon as possible, WP said, “While Singaporeans continue to focus on overcoming COVID-19, general elections are an essential feature of our democracy that should not be taken lightly.”

The Singapore Democratic Party made a similar call, saying that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is determined to hold the election despite the pandemic. 

“It must not be allowed to pull a quick event and gloss over existential threats to our society, many brought about by the PAP itself,” the SDP said.

PAP must “dispense with its usual tactic” of allowing the minimum period of nine days for campaigning and to “monopolise” newspaper columns and airwaves, according to the SDP. As mass rallies would likely not be a feature of the campaigning, this puts the opposition at an even greater disadvantage.

The SDP calls on the government to: 

  1. Extend the official campaigning to 21 days, instead of the current nine.

  2. Provide all parties access to the Mediacorp's channels every night.

  3. Provide all parties access to radio programmes every day.

  4. Reserve space in the SPH newspapers for parties to publish their manifestos and ideas daily.

  5. Allow parties to address residents at food centres, void decks and common areas.   

Progress Singapore Party declined to comment when approached by Yahoo News Singapore.

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