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Political parties say they will adhere to new campaign rules, but some repeat calls to defer General Election

Political parties say they will adhere to new campaign rules, but some repeat calls to defer General Election

File photo of the Elections Department headquarters located along Prinsep Link.

SINGAPORE: There was mixed reaction from political parties, following the announcement of campaigning guidelines by the Elections Department on Thursday (Jun 18).

The People's Action Party (PAP) said it will adhere to the prevailing guidelines laid out by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force for any activities involving public interaction, "in accordance to whichever phase of the post-circuit breaker measures that the next elections may be held in".

"As the guidelines have only just been issued by the ELD we will study the details closely and will adhere to them fully," said a party spokesperson.

Similarly, the Workers' Party said that it was currently studying the guidelines, which were issued on Thursday afternoon.

READ: No rallies, but more TV broadcasts in preliminary campaigning guidelines for General Election

READ: Political parties to get free airtime, subsidised livestreaming venues if GE takes place in Phase 2

No physical rallies will be allowed if hustings for the General Election fall within Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening, but alternative ways of reaching out to voters will be provided.

All election candidates will get free airtime for Constituency Political Broadcasts on Mediacorp's Channel 5, and the Government will also subsidise the cost of venues with Internet connectivity for parties and candidates to livestream online rallies.

The Singapore Democratic Party said the absence of physical rallies would benefit the ruling party. 

"The opposition cannot hold our traditional rallies which are crucial opportunities to communicate directly with voters," said the party in a statement. 

"Ground activities are also restricted to small groups which will hamper effective outreach and communication. Such restrictions could have been further relaxed if the PAP waits for a couple more months and holds the elections in Phase 3 when the risk of new infections is minimal. This would allow parties to campaign freely and effectively."

READ: What are the COVID-19 safety measures for Polling Day? Here’s what voters need to know

The secretary-general of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Steve Chia said the rules were "clear and reasonable" and he appreciated the constituency airtime given to each candidate.

But SPP chairman Jose Raymond expressed scheduling concerns.

"While it is good that the Elections Department has announced that every candidate will have three minutes of broadcast time on Channel 5, I am interested to know how this will be scheduled given that we will have 93 seats up for elections, and about 200 candidates slated to take part."

SPP plans to resume ground engagement activities on Friday.

The Reform Party said airtime given to the political parties may not be as effective as physical rallies, as these broadcasts will only be aired on Channel 5. Given the stringent guidelines set, the party said it will be best to defer the election.

CNA has also reached out to the Progress Singapore Party for its comments.

Source: CNA/hm(ac)


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