Independent regional journalism outlet, New Naratif condemns the recent police report made by the Singapore Elections Department (ELD) against it as a politically motivated attack on freedom of expression and said that this is harassment, and is completely unsurprising given the People’s Action Party (PAP) government’s long track record of arresting, abusing and intimidating critics.
A police report was earlier filed by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) against New Naratif for publishing paid advertisements. The ARO had issued three notices to Facebook on 3 July, 7 July and 8 July 2020 to remove five unauthorised paid advertisements published on its platform by New Naratif.
The ARO alleges that this amounted to the illegal conduct of election activity under s83(2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) during the recent 2020 General Election.
Under the PEA, the conduct of any election activity requires prior written authority signed by a candidate or his election agent. “Election activity” includes any activity which is done for the purpose of promoting or procuring the electoral success at any election for one or more identifiable political parties, candidates or groups of candidates; or prejudicing the electoral prospects of other political parties, candidates or groups of candidates at the election.
Neither New Naratif nor its representatives or agents were authorised by any candidate or election agent in this General Election to conduct election activity, said ELD.
PAP repeating old tactics, says New Naratif
In a statement issued on Saturday (19 Sept), New Naratif wrote:
“The PAP lost the argument at the ballot box, and Prime Minister Lee promised humility. Instead, the Prime Minister’s Office is taking revenge against leading critics and independent media. They are repeating tired old tactics by abusing the Parliamentary Elections Act, just like after both the 2015 and 2016 elections when investigations were launched against critics.
Singaporeans deserve better. We sent a clear message that we want a good, clean, effective government which governs on behalf of all Singaporeans, not petty thuggery and abuse of power.”
New Naratif was founded by three Singaporeans in 2017 as an act of love for their home, their country, and their region. It provides evidence-based, in-depth research and reporting on Southeast Asia in a variety of formats and languages.
While it has been repeatedly attacked by Singapore’s PAP government since 2018, it said this will not deviate from its mission of informing and empowering the people of Southeast Asia.
“We urge the Singapore government to drop its long-standing campaign of harassment against New Naratif.”, said the publication.
Any person convicted of an offence under PEA may be liable to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.