Changes to election deposit formula and payment methods mooted in amendment to Parliamentary Elections Act

Changes to election deposit formula and payment methods mooted in amendment to Parliamentary Elections Act

Voters at Bukit Batok Sec School polling station for the Bukit Batok by-election on May 7, 2016.
Voters at a polling station in Singapore. (File photo: Ray Yeh)

SINGAPORE: Candidates who contest a General Election will pay less for an election deposit compared to the current S$14,500, and will have the option to pay for it using electronic funds transfer, according to changes to the Parliamentary Elections Act tabled by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Sep 10).

The Elections Department (ELD) said in a factsheet on Monday that the proposed amendment simplifies the formula to compute the election deposit to it being based on an elected Member of Parliament’s (MP) fixed monthly allowance, rounded to the nearest S$500. Given that the current fixed monthly allowance is S$13,750, the election deposit will be rounded down to S$13,500.

Today, the computation is a sum equal to 8 per cent of the total allowances payable to an MP in the preceding calendar year, rounded to the nearest S$500. This works out to S$14,500, which was collected at General Election 2015, it added.

Another change tabled was for the payment of the election deposit. ELD said the amended Bill deletes the reference to cash payment and, in its place, provides the option for candidates to pay the amount by electronic fund transfer systems.

Other payment methods of bank draft and certified cheque currently provided in the Act will continue to be available, it said.

Additionally, to facilitate the smooth and orderly conduct of nomination proceedings, the amendment Bill proposes that only aspiring candidates who meet the following conditions may be allowed to enter the nomination place:

  • The candidate has been issued a political donation certificate
  • The candidate is accompanied by a proposer, a seconder and at least four assentors
  • In the case of Group Representation Constituency (GRC) candidates, the relevant candidate in the group has been issued the relevant minority community certificate

ELD will also change the current method of deciding the number of polling agents at a polling station.

Rather than having one polling agent to a booth, the amended law will allow for polling agents "proportionate to the total number of voters allotted to the polling station".

This will give more flexibility to the ELD to design polling stations for efficient operation, it said. Resources such as electronic voter registration can be used, for example. 

The increased number of non-constituency MPs (NCMPs) from 9 to 12 minus the total number of elected Opposition MPs was also formally included into the legislation.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said in 2016 he intends to raise the number of NCMP seats so that there will be at least 12 opposition faces in Parliament from the next General Election.

The amendment Bill also replicates some of the changes made to the Presidential Elections Act in 2017.

These changes include stating the Returning Officer will only consider markings that are made within the demarcated area of a ballot paper, and removing the need to apply for a vote recount if the difference in the number of votes between the top candidate and any other candidate contesting the same election falls within the stipulated limit of 2 per cent or less.

Source: CNA/kk