The Elections’ Department (ELD) has confirmed that physical rallies will not be allowed to take place during the upcoming election. This is one of the measures in a list of preliminary campaigning rules that the authority released on Thursday (18 June), as the nation prepares for an election that may be called as soon as next month.
The campaigning rules this time around are modified to protect the health and safety of candidates and voters, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of physical rallies, the ELD will set up special live streaming facilities for candidates to hold e-rallies during the campaign period, at a subsidised cost.
Besides barring physical rallies, the ELD said that large crowds of supporters will not be allowed to gather at the nomination centres or assembly areas on Nomination Day and Polling Day. Thank-you processions are also not permitted.
Walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning are permitted but will be restricted to groups of five who must wear masks and abide by safe distancing measures. Groups canvassing the same area must not mix and must maintain at least 1m distance. Those who are walking the ground are asked to minimise physical contact, such as handshakes.
Candidates and voters are not allowed to make, exhibit or distribute party political films that are directed towards any political end in Singapore, including films that intend to or are likely to affect voting in any election in Singapore.
The ELD said that factual and objective films that do not dramatise and/or present an inaccurate account will be allowed but films that dramatise, sensationalise and mislead viewers on political matters is likely to be considered a party political film.
Besides these changes, candidates in the upcoming election will also be asked to bear the cost of $50 for the removal of any election poster or banner that does not abide by prevailing rules.
Given the restrictions candidates face, the ELD will provide all political parties with extra television airtime to communicate their messages to voters instead. Candidates may also use perambulating vehicles during the campaigning period, but will not be permitted to speak, livestream or broadcast music or videos from the vehicle.
Campaigning guidelines that are not impacted by the COVID-19 situation include the rules on the display of posters and banners, election spending, as well as the cooling-off period.
The ELD repeated its call for political parties and candidates to plan for modes of campaigning that do not involve physical group gatherings, given the COVID-19 situation. It also called on members of the public, candidates and their election agents to be socially responsible, and to “play their part by adhering to safe distancing measures during campaigning and polling to ensure a safe election for everyone”.
The authority, which is under the Prime Minister’s Office, asserted that the rule modifications were made to protect the health and safety of all Singapore residents and to ensure that voters have access to the campaigning messages of all political parties and candidates so that they can make an informed decision.
It added that it will consider the COVID-19 situation at the time the General Election is called and make the necessary adjustments to its preliminary campaigning guidelines and the safety measures, in accordance with the MOH guidelines at that time.
Read the ELD’s advisory in full HERE.