Crowd-funding to raise funds for elections allowed

The ELD said that crowd-funding was permitted as long as candidates comply with the restrictions outlined in the Political Donations Act.
The ELD said that crowd-funding was permitted as long as candidates comply with the restrictions outlined in the Political Donations Act.PHOTO: EPA

Candidates are allowed to use crowd-funding to raise money for the coming polls, said the Elections Department (ELD), even as several groups started canvassing for donations online.

Responding to queries from the media yesterday, the ELD said that crowd-funding was permitted as long as candidates comply with the restrictions outlined in the Political Donations Act.

"Under the Political Donations Act, each candidate can accept only donations from permissible donors. Additionally, anonymous donations (for each candidate) must not exceed $5,000," said an ELD spokesman.

The law also prohibits donations from foreign sources or individuals below the age of 21, and requires that cumulative donations of $10,000 or more from a single individual also be declared.

Yesterday morning, Mr Roy Ngerng, 34, a member of the Reform Party's six-member team for Ang Mo Kio GRC, put up a post on his blog calling for donations.

The post said the team hopes to raise $50,000 before Nomination Day on Sept 1. Donors were asked to transfer money to a DBS bank account under the names of Mr Ngerng and his GRC team colleague, activist Gilbert Goh, 54.

"We do have existing funds, but if we want to hold a campaign that would be impactful and meaningful, and create greater reach, we need more money," Mr Ngerng told The Straits Times .

Mr Goh added that the team already has about 90 per cent of their election deposits but needs the extra cash to hold rallies, which can cost about $10,000 each. As of last night, Mr Goh said they had raised less than $2,000.

For the Sept 11 election, each candidate had to place an election deposit of $14,500.

Separately, blogger Han Hui Hui, who has indicated her interest in running as an independent in Radin Mas SMC, has also begun to ask for donations online.

Mr Ngerng, Mr Goh and Ms Han are all no strangers to the process, having conducted previous crowd-funding campaigns for various causes, including protests they organised in Speakers' Corner.

Last year, Mr Ngerng raised some $110,000 online to help pay for legal costs after he was sued for defamation by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Online fund-raising for elections and political causes has been around since the last election, and parties, like the Singapore Democratic Party(SDP), have long had a section on its website calling for donations.

SDP treasurer Chong Wai Fung said the party receives about half of its funding online but adds that all parties are very cautious about anonymous donations, as they could come from foreign sources.

"That's why we always ask them to indicate who they are. So far, I think we don't have any transfers where we don't know who the donors are," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'Crowd-funding to raise funds for elections allowed'. Print Edition | Subscribe