The Chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission for the 2017 Legislative Assembly Election, Mr Tong Hio Fong, said he expected there would be a reduction in the number of guidelines issued by the Commission compared to previous polls.
The Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election is required to issue election guidelines that are binding in nature, in order to complement the Legislative Assembly Election Law. The Commission follows the Legislative Assembly Election Law in its handling of issues related to the Legislative Assembly Election.
Mr Tong made the comments on Wednesday (12 April) during a meeting with sitting members of the Legislative Assembly, including the President, Mr Ho Iat Seng. The meeting was jointly organised by the Electoral Affairs Commission and the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC). It was convened to hear Assembly members’ views regarding the Electoral Affairs Commission’s first issued set of guidelines for the 2017 Legislative Assembly Election, and the candidates’ responsibility to make accurate declarations of interests.
During the meeting, Mr Tong gave a detailed explanation regarding what is known as the “1/CAEAL/2017” guideline, which came into effect on 11 April. It mentioned topics including: regulations regarding facilities used by election teams; campaign advertising; limitations on the use of audio equipment in broadcasting vans; the posting of campaigning material in public spaces; the prohibition of the use of mobile phones and devices with camera functions inside voting booths; and the regulations for handling any messages deemed unlawful, should such messages appear on any communication channels used by campaigning teams.
The guidelines also explained the authorisation and ratification process regarding campaigning expenses; the mandatory use of the official voting chops provided in voting booths; and pointed out that any infringement of the guidelines would render those involved accountable for the crime of disobedience.
The guidelines were formed as a result of meetings with Assembly members and people from across the community, added Mr Tong.
The Commissioner Against Corruption, Mr Cheong Weng Chon, reminded attendees at Wednesday’s meeting that candidates and legal persons participating in the election should declare to the Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election any involvement in any events offering any sort of compensation to participants – even if such events were not related to campaigning. Such a declaration would not in itself protect candidates from the possibility of exposure to legal proceedings, he added.
The updated Legislative Assembly Election Law requires candidates to declare to the Electoral Affairs Commission if he or she had held any positions – including honorary titles – in any organisations, associations or companies, during the period 31 August 2016 to 31 August 2017 inclusive.
Candidates are also required to declare if such organisations, associations or companies provided any benefits – e.g. banquets, subsidies, group travel, gifts or entertainment – during the period 2 to 17 September 2017, inclusive.
The Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election will use multiple channels – including via briefing sessions, and question-and-answer sessions via the Internet – in order to let interested individuals, candidates, associations and voters have a better understanding of the election guidelines; of issues related to declaration of interests; of the Legislative Assembly Election Law; and of other election-related information.
The Legislative Assembly Election is to be held on 17 September.View gallery