GE2015: Groups must ensure their Constitution allows for participation in political activity, says Elections Department

The Elections Department said on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015, that all civic, business and professional groups must ensure their Constitution allows them to participate in any form of political activity.
The Elections Department said on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015, that all civic, business and professional groups must ensure their Constitution allows them to participate in any form of political activity.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - 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 on Wednesday (Aug 26).

The reminder comes after the Swami (Sunshine Welfare Action Mission) Home - a voluntary welfare organisation - was found to have breached its Constitution when it hosted the People's Action Party's (PAP) candidate introduction for Sembawang GRC on Aug 14.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said at the time that as a registered society, Swami Home is obliged to adhere to its Constitution.

Other forms of political activity includes 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 merits of supporting a candidate, must not influence an individual's decision at the ballot box to freely decide whom to support and how to cast his vote, said the ELD.

In the advisory, the 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, the ELD said.

Meanwhile, the Police has also 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, and

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

During the campaigning period, the 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," the ELD said.