Disclaimer: I am a staff member of SPH and wish to make it clear that the views expressed here are mine alone and not the company’s.
The Elections Department isn’t the only one who can make police reports.
Seeing that the ELD only seems to make reports against online media and opposition supporters, yesterday I made a police report about possible breaches of election advertising rules by the PAP.
You can see pictures of the police report as well as all accompanying evidence below.
I reported two instances of potential breaches, one during the Bukit Batok by-election and one during the General Election last year.
You might ask why I am reporting these breaches only now, several months after the General Election. Well, I did report them, to ELD. But they didn’t do anything. It was only when I saw the news report on Friday that ELD had made police reports regarding breaches of election advertising rules that I realised I should have contacted the police instead of ELD! It seems that enforcement lies with the police, not ELD.
During the General Election last year, numerous election advertisement flyers published by the PAP were put up all over the Chong Pang market and hawker centre.
Flyers are meant to be distributed. When they are pasted up on walls, they become posters (see pictures below of some of these posters that I took myself.)
You can see in small print in the scan I made of one of the flyers that they were published by the PAP.
The Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) forbids the displaying of election posters that do not bear the official stamp of the Returning Officer or that have not been lodged with the Returning Officer (see below for the relevant extracts from the PEA.)
The aforementioned posters do not bear any such stamp. Therefore, I believe they were in breach of the PEA.
Furthermore, on the ELD website, there is a list of locations where it is prohibited to display election posters and banners. One of the prohibited locations is “stalls in a hawker centre, food centre, or market” (see below for a screenshot of the list from the ELD website.)
The question then is, how did the posters come to be displayed all over the market and hawker centre?
Some may say that perhaps the hawkers and shopkeepers put up the posters voluntarily. However, the premises of the market and hawker centre are public properties, probably managed by the town council and NEA. Are hawkers and shopkeepers allowed to display election advertising published by political parties on public property?
With regard to the Bukit Batok by-election, on April 30 the following article was posted on The Online Citizen: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/…/rcs-in-bukit-batok-smc-p…/
The article shows a PAP election banner on what is purportedly an RC banner rack. After the article was posted, the banner was taken down. But going by the dates given in the article, the banner could have been up for two or three days during the campaign period. If the said banner rack indeed belongs to the RC, then there may have been a breach of election rules.
Referring again to the list of prohibited locations for displaying election advertising, one of them is “premises of Community Centres/Clubs and Resident Centres”. I do not know the exact definition of “Resident Centres” but I think this category refers to People’s Association property, since Community Centres are mentioned. RC property is PA property.
There is also a disclaimer at the end of the list of prohibited locations which says that the list is non-exhaustive and includes mainly public properties. RC banner racks are definitely public property.
Update: The TOC editor has informed me that the town council wrote to him saying the banner rack belongs to them. But the same question applies: are town council banner racks allowed for election advertising?
I should note that I had emailed the ELD regarding these potential breaches, both last year and this year. I never received a reply last year. I did receive a reply regarding Bukit Batok, but it was a non-reply which did not answer my questions, as bureaucrats are wont to do. I have posted the emails below together with the other pictures.
I must say that I cannot confirm whether there were indeed breaches of laws but going by what I have shown, there is cause for concern. I have provided all the same evidence you see here to the police. I leave it to them to investigate the matters.