Singapore Police Force (SPF) has administered stern warnings, acting on the directions of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, in lieu of prosecution to Mr Chua Chin Seng, The Independent Singapore, Mr Masilamani Pillai Kumaran, Mr Ravi Chandran Philemon and Mr Alfred Dodwell.
The Police stated that parties involved had published online articles in breach of the prohibition of election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day of the 2016 Bukit Batok By-Election, an offence under Section 78B(1)(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, adding that such offence is punishable with a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
“Upon careful consideration of all the circumstances of the cases, including the nature of the publications, the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided to administer stern warnings to all parties,” the Police stressed.
“Should any of the parties commit similar offences in subsequent elections, the stern warning that was administered can be taken into consideration in the decision to prosecute,” it added.
SPF then said that the prohibition of election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day allows voters time to step back from the excitement and emotion of campaigning, to reflect on the issues at stake before casting their votes.
It noted that the Cooling-Off Day breaches detected during the 2016 Bukit Batok By-Election go against the spirit of the election rule. Left unchecked, such breaches can undermine public trust in Singapore’s electoral process.
The Police said that candidates and their supporters are expected to abide fully by all relevant laws on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day, and should refrain from conduct that goes against the spirit behind the prohibition against campaigning on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day.
“Anyone found to have breached the rules in future elections will be subjected to Police investigations and may face prosecution,” it added.
However, the police till today have not acted upon reports on the People’s Action Party team at Nee Soon GRC where numerous posters were posted without the stamp of the Election Department and in the hawker centres. There has been no news about any investigation launched nor warning letters issued.
The regulation limits the number of posters that a candidate or team can put up and also not to interfere with the operation of the merchants.