Singapore – Members of the public have suggest televised debates since physical rallies will not be permitted during the upcoming General Elections.
The Elections Department (ELD) announced on Thursday (June 18) that there will be no physical rallies for candidates if the upcoming GE were to occur during phase two of Singapore’s three-phase approach to exiting the Circuit Breaker period. All political parties will be provided extra television airtime instead, said the ELD in a straitstimes.com report. Walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning will be allowed; however, groups would be limited to five people, and proper safe distancing measures must be followed.
Livestreaming facilities would be established during the campaign period where candidates can apply for time slots and hold e-rallies, said the ELD. Through such measures, voters’ health and safety will be upheld while all candidates are given access to campaign amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said the ELD. “The announcement of these guidelines has no relation to the timing of the general election, which will be decided by the Prime Minister,” it added.
New constituency political broadcasts were established and will provide every candidate with three minutes of airtime on Mediacorp’s Channel 5. They can choose to speak in any of the four official languages. Meanwhile, each set of candidates in a group representation constituency (GRC) will be allowed either 12 or 15 minutes of airtime, if they are contesting a four- or five-man GRC, respectively. More details will be given after the Writ of Election is released.
In response to the announcement regarding the upcoming elections, members of the public suggested live TV debates and demanded that airtime should be fairly distributed. Some pointed out that the People’s Action Party (PAP) had already had their “series of rally speeches” the last couple of weeks with ministerial speeches in the National Broadcasts.
Meanwhile, others couldn’t fathom the reasoning behind rushing the elections under such circumstances. It “reveals PAP’s wanton disregard for the safety and public health of Singaporeans in favour of its own political interests,” said Martin Lee. If the goal of moving campaigns to virtual is to keep voters safe, Celeste Teo presumes it is “safest to hold elections next year when all things (have) settled.”