SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday (Jun 8) called for the period between the issue of the Writ of Election to Nomination Day to be doubled, in a response to the Election Department’s (ELD) release of contingency plans for holding a General Election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier on Monday, ELD had announced a range of safety measures on polling and nomination, as well as guidelines on election advertising, but said that guidelines on physical campaigning, such as for rallies and walkabouts, could not be confirmed yet.
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“ELD is committed to giving political parties and candidates as much lead-time as possible to prepare their campaigning activities. However, putting out the guidelines early would mean that there could be further changes, as the COVID-19 situation evolves,” it said.
“As COVID-19 is likely to still be present beyond April 2021, by which time the GE must be held, we strongly encourage candidates and political parties to plan for modes of campaigning that minimise large group gatherings,” it added.
SDP said in a statement on Monday night that the uncertainty over the rules for campaigning is a “clear demonstration that the COVID-19 spread is still very much not under control”.
“Elections in Singapore have always provided PAP maximum exposure and the opposition minimum reach to the electorate. This GE, widely predicted to be held in July, will make the gap even wider,” said SDP.
The opposition party repeated a number of recommendations it had put forward two weeks ago, with the addition of another proposal to extend the period between the issuing of the Writ of Election and Nomination Day from five to 10 days.
“This will allow parties to organise our campaigns and make the necessary logistical preparations including safety equipment for volunteers and polling agents. This is especially important if the ELD only announces the election rules following the issuance of the Writ,” said SDP.
ELD had said that in the “worst case scenario”, full campaign guidelines will be made known when the Writ of Election is issued. Nomination Day has to be at least five days but not later than one month from the date the Writ is issued.
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The other SDP proposals are to provide 21 days for the official campaign period instead of the current nine, to give all parties access to the Mediacorp TV channels every night, over and above the traditional political broadcasts, and to provide all parties access to radio programmes every day.
It also suggested to reserve column space in newspapers for parties to publish their manifestos as well as discuss their ideas or proposals, and to allow parties to address residents at food centres, void decks and common areas subject to safety social distancing rules.
ELD had said on Monday that measures to ensure voters have access to the campaigning messages of political parties and candidates will be put in place should large group activities be restricted. This may include additional TV broadcast time for candidates and political parties.
Said SDP: “This election, quite unlike others in the past, will require Singaporeans to be even more actively and intensely engaged. To this end, nothing short of an open and meaningful electoral process will do.”
Published at Mon, 08 Jun 2020 13:50:38 +0000