The Prime Minister Office (PMO) has just released a statement about the filing of police reports by the Assistant Returning Officer from the Election Department against socio-political site, The Independent Singapore (TISG) and two individuals – Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng – for publishing several online articles and postings that may be tantamount to election advertising, on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day of the recent Bukit Batok by-election.
Election advertising is defined as any material posted on any platform that is intended to enhance the standing of, or promote electoral success for, an identifiable party or candidate.
Under the Parliamentary Election Act, posting of election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day is prohibited, as ELD that is governed by the Prime Minister Officer, states that this campaign silence period is meant to give voters time to reflect rationally on issues raised before going to the polls.
On 6 May (Cooling-Off Day), TISG published two articles, “5 highlights of DPM’s speech” and “Workers’ Party and the Bukit Batok By-election” and on 7 May (Polling Day), it published an article, “Tan Cheng Bock denies involvement in posting by irrational group of PAP fans“.
As for the two other individuals, both posted posts that supposedly support the candidate from the Singapore Democratic Party on cooling off day.
In filing the police reports, PMO notes that the Assistant Returning Officer has taken into consideration the nature of the postings and the potential impact that they might have had. It stated that socio-political sites such as TISG that regularly promote, propagate and discuss political issues should be accountable and responsible for what they publish.
“Not only did TISG publish articles that may be tantamount to election advertising on Cooling-Off Day, it continued to do so even after receiving a specific reminder from the ARO not to post any election advertising during Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day. The two individuals – Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng – also regularly engage in the propagation, promotion and discussion of political issues.” write PMO.
Posting election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day is an offence under Section 78B(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act. Any person who is convicted of such an offence may be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months.