MDA orders The Middle Ground to take down article on Bukit Batok by-election

Update: The Media Development Authority has filed a police report against The Middle Ground after it was deemed to have breached the Parliamentary Elections Act. The report was filed at 12.40pm on Friday (May 6), reported Channel NewsAsia.

Singapore's media regulator has ordered news website The Middle Ground to take down its article on how Bukit Batok residents would vote in the by-election tomorrow (May 7).

The Media Development Authority (MDA) told the website this morning that the publication of the article 'BB BE: 50 voters in Bukit Batok' was a "breach of the Parliamentary Elections Act", said a note on The Middle Ground's homepage.

It said MDA gave The Middle Ground a deadline of 3.30pm today to remove it, but the website said it would have it down by 2.30pm.

The website said in its note: "The notice came to us this morning, saying that the report was in breach of Section 78C (1) of the Act.

"To save you the trouble of going over the legal gobbledegook, this section basically says we're not allowed to publish any electoral surveys once the writ of election is issued and until voting closes tomorrow (May 7)."

The site, whose consulting editor is Bertha Henson, a former veteran journalist of The Straits Times, said its article was "not meant to be an electoral survey".

"The G thinks it is. Maybe it is, maybe it's not - if you ask us, we're not 100 per cent sure, which is why we're leaving it up until about an hour before the MDA deadline," it said.

The Middle Ground pointed out that the article (photo below) was produced under its "50 Faces" long-running series which feature the views of ordinary people.

"For this particular story, we asked Bukit Batok voters over the past week about how they will vote. Not many gave answers. In fact, most went on to talk about the sort of Member of Parliament they would like to see elected," it explained.

It has decided to take the post down "because if we don't, we could be fined up to $1,500 and even thrown behind bars".

But it promises its readers that once Polling Day is over, the story should be back on the website.