SDP questions setting up of PAP flags before Nomination Day, ELD says rules don't apply

PHOTO: Facebook/SDP

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) vice-chairman John Tan has lodged a report to the Elections Department (ELD) after finding out that the People’s Action Party (PAP) flags are already being displayed in public. 

According to ELD's candidate handbook for GE2020, candidates can start displaying the party’s posters, banners and flags during the campaign period, which only commences from the close of nomination on Nomination Day and ends on Cooling-off Day. 

Though Nomination Day is on June 30, PAP flags were spotted on Friday (June 26) by SDP Vice-Chairman John Tan, who has since written in to ELD.

In a picture posted on the SDP Facebook page, six upright flags can be seen tied to some bollards along Marine Crescent. The flags were placed right in front of the Marine Crescent Gardens HDB estate, which is in the Marine Parade GRC. 

This morning, the SDP wrote to the Elections Department to clarify the legal status of displaying party's flags in...

Posted by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Friday, June 26, 2020

Campaign posters and banners are not allowed to be put up before the campaign period, as clearly stated in the ELD FAQ section:

PHOTO: ELD website screengrab

Tan wants to know if the PAP flags at Marine Crescent are considered a violation of the Parliamentary Elections (Election Advertising) Regulations — and if it’s not, SDP would like to start setting up its flags too. 

The question of PAP flags being displayed in public before the campaign period has been a source of contention in past general elections. Back in 2011, netizens questioned if it was legal for PAP flags to be planted in several estates before Nomination Day. 

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh had told Yahoo! Singapore that flags are set up only at PAP’s branch offices, which is done for every general election. 

Back in 2015, party flags were allegedly spotted in Tampines in July, even though the general election only took place in September. 

ELD: Rules do not apply yet

ELD, however, has confirmed that the regulations related to the display of posters and banners do not apply as the period of campaigning has not started. 

Responding to TODAY, an ELD spokesperson stated that the act of displaying the PAP flags is governed by other legislation such as the Town Councils Act. 

Additionally, a Marine Parade PAP branch office volunteer mentioned to TODAY that the flags that were put up are “within the branch perimeters” and are part of National Day celebrations.

ELD will be involved once the campaign period kicks off. 

“Once the campaign period starts, the display of posters and banners must be subject to a permit that is issued by the Returning Officer,” the ELD spokesperson said. 

It’s the same answer given earlier this month to Blackdot Research, which queried ELD on a video that had circulated on WhatsApp depicting a PAP flag planted in what appears to be a housing estate. 

”The rules and regulations for posters and banners under the Parliamentary Elections Act are effective only during elections. Outside of the election period, the display of party posters, banners, flags etc. are subject to other regulations and the approval of the premises owner,” ELD clarified.