Polls dept issues advisory on political activities

ALL civic, business and professional groups must ensure their Constitution allows them to participate in any form of political activity, the Elections Department (ELD) said yesterday.

This means that if their Constitution does not allow them to do so, they cannot take part in political activities.

Earlier this month, a complaint was made against the Swami Home, saying it had breached its Constitution when it hosted the People's Action Party introduction of candidates for Sembawang GRC on Aug 14.

The home was advised by the Registry of Societies a few days later to "ensure strict adherence to its Constitution", because as a registered society, it is "governed by its Constitution on what activities are permissible and what are not".

Other forms of political activity include endorsing candidates, publishing advertisements or issuing press statements to express support for any candidate.

These groups - while allowed to consult their members and collectively consider the merits of supporting a candidate - must not influence a person's decision at the ballot box to freely decide whom to support and how to cast his vote, said ELD.

In the advisory, ELD also said that any person who conducts activities to promote or procure the election of a candidate must be individually authorised in writing by the candidate or his election agent on and from Nomination Day.

Those who are not Singapore citizens are prohibited from taking part in any form of election activity and cannot be authorised, ELD said.

Meanwhile, police have set two new conditions for the granting of permits for election rallies. These are:

- Office-holders and candidates of one political party are not allowed to speak at rallies held by another party.

- Faces of speakers who are on stage cannot be concealed.

During the campaigning period, ELD also said that candidates should avoid engaging in negative practices "based on hate and denigration of opposing candidates".

Neither should they make any false statements that are defamatory, or statements that "may cause racial or religious tensions or affect social cohesion".

"Egregious acts of negative campaigning could also be in breach of the law," ELD said.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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