Facing mounting pressure by repeated calls from various opposition parties, the Elections Department (ELD) finally announced some campaign guidelines if the GE was held amid the Covid19 pandemic. However, the announcement did not appear to offer any concrete rules for campaigning as ELD was still concerned with the developing Covid19 situation and how rules may be “overtaken by events”.
With the predicted GE2020 to be announced in July, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) laid out some proposals to campaigning rules such that this GE will provide fair exposure and reach for all Parties. The SDP suggested:
1. Doubling the period between the Writ of Election being issued and Nomination Day to ten days. This will allow sufficient time for Parties to organise their campaigns and prepare their logistics and manpower.
2. Extend the official campaigning period to 21 days instead of 9 days. Such an extension will allow time for national issues to be addressed and debated on air and in print.
3. All Parties must be given access to media airtime on Mediacorp TV channels nightly.
4. All Parties must be have daily access to radio programmes.
5. Reserve column space on the state newspapers for Parties to publish their manifestos and feature their party proposals.
6. Parties who observe social distancing rules should be allowed to interact with residents at food centres, void decks and other common areas.
These proposals will ensure that all Parties can campaign meaningfully. Otherwise GE2020 will be like any other elections where the PAP gains maximum exposure, while opposition parties have to depend on an already shrinking alternate media to reach out to the electorate.