Physical rallies will not be allowed if the next general election (GE) is held during Phase Two of Singapore’s reopening, but there will be more airtime on national television channels for all political parties, the Elections Department (ELD) announced on Thursday (18 June).
The ELD also released the preliminary campaigning guidelines for the next GE, noting that the guidelines follow the reference from the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s guidelines pertaining to Phase Two of the country’s reopening.
“The announcement of these guidelines has no relation to the timing of the general election, which will be decided by the Prime Minister,” it said.
Although political parties and candidates are allowed to conduct walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning, each group should not be more than five persons and safe distancing measures have to be complied.
“Any group doing a walkabout or door-to-door campaigning should be made up of not more than five persons, there should be no mixing between groups, and each group should remain at least one metre apart from other groups,” the ELD stated.
Nomination proceedings will be covered by the national broadcaster Mediacorp on its TV and online channels. Only candidates, their proposers, seconders, assentors, and accredited media personnel are allowed entry into Nomination Centres, which must adhere to safe distancing measures at all times.
“Candidates may use perambulating vehicles for campaigning, but they will not be permitted to speak or livestream or broadcast music or videos from the vehicle,” the ELD added.
Instead of physical rallies, there will be more airtime on national free-to-air TV channels for political parties and candidates. The ELD noted that this is to allow them to put their messages out to voters, while safeguarding public health and safety.
“Each candidate contesting in a Single Member Constituency (SMC) will be given 3 minutes of airtime on national TV.
“Each group of candidates contesting in a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) will be given 12 minutes or 15 minutes respectively, depending on whether it is a 4- or 5-member GRC,” as stated in the guidelines.
Constituency political broadcasts will be aired on Mediacorp’s Channel 5, which is a one-off, special arrangement for the next election.
The ELD advised members of the public to watch the political broadcasts from their own homes, and not gather in groups beyond the sizes allowed under the MOH guidelines.
Additionally, candidates can opt to hold e-rally livestreams as the Government will provide venues – equipped with internet connectivity at subsidized rate – where candidates can apply and utilise the space for live streaming at specific time slots during the campaign period.
“Similar to physical rallies, beyond the basic technical setup furnished onsite at the recording venues, candidates are expected to make their own arrangements for filming and live streaming at the site and ensure the successful delivery of their own livestreams,” the ELD said.
The ELD also noted that candidates and voters should not make, exhibit, or distribute party political films. Factual and objective films, party manifestos, and the candidate’s declaration of policies will not be considered party political films.
“However, a recording of a livestream that employs dramatisation and/or animation to present an inaccurate account, sensationalise and mislead viewers on political matters is likely to be considered a party political film,” it added.
Meanwhile, other election rules remain unchanged, including rules on the display of posters and banners, election spending, and the cooling-off period.
“Further details including dates of these broadcasts will be made available after the Writ of Election is issued,” the ELD stated.