SINGAPORE: The Elections Department (ELD) on Wednesday (Jun 24) announced more details about TV broadcasts and livestreaming facilities, which political parties would rely heavily on in the coming General Election as there will be no physical political rallies.
This came after the Writ of Election was issued on Tuesday, officially triggering the election process. Nomination Day has been set on Jun 30, while polling day will be held on Jul 10.
There will be no physical rallies or other large gatherings during this election due to restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. Walkabouts are allowed but are subjected to strict guidelines which ELD emphasised again on Wednesday.
In place of large gatherings, up to 10 livestreaming venues will be provided each day by the Government for online rallies from Jul 1 to Jul 8 at these timings: 7am to 10am, 12noon to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm.
Candidates can apply for these timeslots, which cost S$107 each, from 8am to 1pm the previous day, except on Jun 30 when applications will be accepted from 3pm to 6pm.
"If a particular slot is oversubscribed, it will be allocated via ballot," said ELD in response to queries.
"Use of the subsidised venues is entirely optional. Candidates may campaign via live streaming outside of the provided venues and timeslots."
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Constituency Political Broadcasts – a new feature in the coming election - will be aired on Mediacorp’s Channel 5 from Jul 3 to Jul 7, from 7pm onwards, said ELD.
The pre-recorded broadcasts allow candidates three minutes each to reach out to voters.
Candidates in a Single Member Constituency (SMC) will each get three minutes of airtime, a team contesting a four-member Group Representation Constituency (GRC) will get 12 minutes, while a group of candidates for a five-member GRC will get 15 minutes to speak.
More details will be issued by Jun 25, ELD said in a media release.
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As in previous years, political parties that field at least six candidates are entitled to Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs) that are scheduled on Jul 2 and Jul 9, from 7pm onwards. These will be broadcast on 19 TV and radio channels.
PPBs are one of the exceptions to the prohibition of campaign activities on Cooling-Off Day on Jul 9.
On Nomination Day, supporters will not be allowed in the Nomination Centres, and the candidates’ thank you speeches will be carried on national TV and its online channels.
ELD reiterated its advice to all candidates to use its digital services to prepare their submissions and to adhere to safe distancing rules on Nomination Day, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
NO FIST BUMPS, HIGH FIVES
ELD also reminded candidates and political parties to safe distance when conducting walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning.
"The same MOH (Ministry of Health) guidelines that apply to the public will also apply to the political candidates," said ELD.
While it had issued guidelines before, it highlighted “best practices” in a media release on Wednesday which include: Avoiding physical contact such as fist bumps and high fives, and keeping interactions with members of the public short.
If a crowd forms around candidates or their group, they should remind the public to comply with the safe distancing measures, said ELD.
“If members of the public still do not comply with safe distancing measures, political parties and candidates are encouraged to disengage and leave the area,” it said.
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It also said that masks should not be removed for taking photos or while talking to others. Masks should cover the nose and mouth fully, and only be taken off when eating or drinking.
For a recorded interview or broadcast, masks should be worn, especially in settings where safe distancing is difficult to maintain. The speaker should only remove their masks in an environment where safe management practices are in place and they can maintain a 1m distance from the next person, ELD added.
“Misplacing or forgetting one’s mask is not a reasonable excuse for not wearing a mask in public. To avoid this, you are encouraged to carry spare face masks,” said ELD.
Masks should also be kept on during a house visit, if candidates visit a home and in line with Phase 2 health advisories, household visitors should be limited to five people.
AVOID GATHERING IN PUBLIC: ELD
In another indication of how different this election will be, ELD reminded the public to watch the political broadcasts from their homes, and to avoid gathering in public to do so.
Members of the public were also reminded not to gather or loiter in the vicinity of Nomination Centres during nomination proceedings or at facilities used for livestreaming e-rallies.
“Protecting the health and safety of members of the public – including political parties, candidates and voters – is of utmost importance,” ELD said.
“ELD calls on all political parties and candidates to adhere to safe management measures and the prevailing public health advisories during campaigning, so that campaigning can be conducted safely.
“As part of social responsibility, political parties and candidates are also encouraged to take their temperature daily and stay home when unwell.”
In response to queries on polling for overseas voters and voters who are ill on Polling Day, ELD said: "More details on these issues that relate to polling day will be announced to the media after Nomination Day."