The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has raised concerns about a requirement to submit scripts ahead of televised political broadcasts.
Organising secretary for the PSP and election candidate for the PSP in Tanjong Pagar Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Michael Chua, has said that the PSP finds it “disturbing” to have to submit its speeches 48 hours in advance and is worried that speech contents might be leaked ahead of the broadcasts.
In response to PSP’s concerns, the Elections Department (ELD) has said that this is standard practice and has been so since 1980.
However, just because something is “standard” does not mean that it is right. 1980 is after all 40 years ago. Is it not time to revamp practices and make things more up to date? Besides, something that may have been “standard” in the past, does not mean that is should be “standard” now. In the 1950s, it was “standard” to defer to the British colonial masters. It is however not “standard” now. Standards change and for the ELD to fall back on such a lackadaisical explanation is an absolute cop out!
Unless of course, it is a sign that the Government under the guidance of the People’s Action Party (PAP) is still relying on standards set 40 years ago and is unable to innovate?
Secondly, we are currently not in “standard” times anyway! We are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic where it is absolutely not “standard” to have a General Election. There are still active cases within the community and the ELD has issued a whole raft of regulations on how to campaign and vote safely. Yet, the Government deemed it appropriate to break from “standard” and force a General Election on the people anyway.
So, if the Government is able to set new “standards”, why is the ELD sticking to “standards” in a non “standard” time? Is it a case of “standards” needing to remain static when it suits them and needing to change also when it suits them?
And if so, is this fair? Some netizens are so outraged by this, that they have started a petition to demand an end to this requirement.
The ELD may have attempted to justify its requirements by saying that it needed to ensure that the contents do not contain libellous statements or statements that may cause racial or religious tensions.
This is completely illogical. Why would candidates hoping to win votes want to stir controversy by making comments that could cause racial or religious tension? As for libel, what does that even mean? Does it mean statements that the PAP do not like? Does this sound like an attempt to prevent racial or religious tension or an attempt to control the narrative?
Looking at how Teo Chee Hean had allegedly approached by stander to ask him not to “screw things up” for the PAP, could it be that the PAP is trying desperately to control and stage manage the narrative?
We are having a General Election at a time where nothing is normal. This is the choice of the PAP. Not the alternative parties. Many members of the alternative parties had in fact asked for the elections to be postponed. Alternative party candidates do not normally have the opportunity to make televised speeches. They are only given this opportunity because live rallies have been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
So, how can the practice of providing scripts in advance be standard practice?