Police reports filed against online articles posted on Cooling-Off Day ahead of Bukit Batok by-election

One of the two articles uploaded by The Independent Singapore on Cooling-Off Day on May 6, 2016.
One of the two articles uploaded by The Independent Singapore on Cooling-Off Day on May 6, 2016.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM THEINDEPENDENT.SG

SINGAPORE - Police reports have been filed against a sociopolitical site and two individuals who may have violated a ban on election advertising during the Cooling-Off Day and on Polling Day for the Bukit Batok by-election.

The Elections Department (ELD) said on Friday (May 27) that the Assistant Returning Officer filed police reports against The Independent Singapore (TISG) and two individuals, Ms Teo Soh Lung and Mr Roy Ngerng.

The articles were published on May 6 which was Cooling-Off Day, and Polling Day on May 7.

Posting election advertising is prohibited on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day to give voters time to reflect rationally on the issues raised by candidates before they vote, said the ELD.

Election advertising is defined as any material posted on any platform that is intended to enhance the standing of, or promote electoral success for, an identifiable party or candidate.

In filing the police reports, the Assistant Returning Officer took into consideration the nature of the postings and the potential impact that they might have had.

"Sociopolitical sites such as TISG that regularly promote, propagate and discuss political issues should be accountable and responsible for what they publish," said the ELD.

It added that TISG continued to publish articles even after being specifically reminded by the Assistant Returning Officer not to post any election advertising during Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day.

The Independent uploaded two articles on Cooling-Off Day itself.

 

One was on highlights of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's speech at the People's Action Party's (PAP) final rally on May 5, and the other summarised what Workers' Party members had said about the by-election.

On Polling Day, TISG also published an article titled "Tan Cheng Bock denies involvement in posting by irrational group of PAP fans".

As for Ms Teo and Mr Ngerng, the ELD noted that both of them "regularly engage in the propagation, promotion and discussion of political issues".

Ms Teo, a former political detainee who contested in Yuhua during the 2011 General Election on a Singapore Democratic Party ticket, published four posts on her Facebook account from 2.16am to 7.45am on Cooling-Off Day.

These included an SDP photo calling for support for Dr Chee Soon Juan - the SDP's secretary-general and candidate in the by-election - and a picture containing quotes from unidentified individuals about why they would vote for Dr Chee.

As for Mr Ngerng, a blogger, he posted at 2.08pm on Cooling-Off Day calling for submissions of photographs for a campaign titled "I believe in Chee Soon Juan".

On the same day, he published an article on his blog about the same photo campaign.

Posting election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day is an offence under Section 78B(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Any person who is convicted of such an offence may be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months.