In the wake of an embarrassing slip up by elderly care center Swami Home, which breached its Constitution when it hosted a People’s Action Party (PAP) press conference for Sembawang GRC on 14th August, the Elections Department (ELD) has issued a new set of guidelines for political activities in the run-up to this coming election.
First on its list was that “all civic, business and professional groups” would have to check if their Constitutions allow them to participate or promote any form of political activity first before engaging in it. Should the Constitution of the organization not allow any political activity, they would have to stay out of the fray.
Swami Home was advised by the Registry of Societies a few days after the gaffe to “ensure strict adherence to its Constitution” or face the consequences.
ELD clarified that other forms of political activity include endorsing candidates, publishing advertisements or issuing press statements to express support for any candidate.
It added that such organizations, while allowed to consult their members and collectively consider the merits of supporting certain candidates, should not impede their members from voting freely at the ballot box.
Additionally, ELD also said that any person who conducts activities to promote or procure the election of a candidate must be individually authorized in writing by the candidate or his election agent on and from Nomination Day.
Those who are not Singapore citizens are prohibited from taking part in any form of election activity and cannot be authorised, ELD said.
ELD advised that candidates should avoid campaigning “based on hate and denigration of opposing candidates”, nor should they make any false statements that are defamatory, or statements that “may cause racial or religious tensions or affect social cohesion”.
“Egregious acts of negative campaigning could also be in breach of the law,” ELD said.
The Singapore Police Force have also issued their own statement with regards to granting permits for election rallies. According to the new guidelines, office-holders and candidates of one political party are not allowed to speak at rallies held by another party, and the faces of speakers who are on stage cannot be concealed (by a mask or otherwise).