GE2020 SINGAPORE VOTES: PAP

Singapore GE2020: Scripts not needed for online rallies, says IMDA

Scripts for the party political broadcasts for parties fielding at least six candidates will still have to be submitted.
Scripts for the party political broadcasts for parties fielding at least six candidates will still have to be submitted.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Political parties and candidates taking part in the July 10 polls can carry out online campaigning activities, including rallies, without having to submit their scripts to the authorities beforehand.

But scripts for the party political broadcasts for parties fielding at least six candidates have to be submitted, to ensure they are suitable for airing on national TV, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said yesterday on the Government's fact-checking website Factually.

This has been a requirement since the 1980s, noted the IMDA.

Similarly, candidates have to send in the scripts beforehand for the constituency-specific broadcasts, which will also be aired on national TV. The constituency-specific broadcast, a new feature in this election, will give each candidate three minutes to reach out to voters in the constituency they are contesting.

The Factually clarification yesterday comes a day after the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) had expressed its concerns over having to hand in the scripts of its party political broadcast speeches at least two days in advance.

The IMDA, in explaining why scripts have to be submitted ahead of the recording, said national broadcaster Mediacorp requires it.

This is "to ensure that contents do not contain libellous statements or statements that may cause racial or religious tensions".

The IMDA said political parties and candidates had been told of it at a briefing last Friday.

With physical rallies disallowed as a result of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, the broadcasts have taken on added significance as a way to reach voters.

On Saturday, Mr Michael Chua, PSP's organising secretary and candidate in Tanjong Pagar GRC, said the party found it "disturbing" to have to submit its speeches 48 hours in advance, and was worried the contents might be leaked before the broadcasts.

Yesterday morning, former political detainee Teo Soh Lung began a petition on change.org entitled "No to IMDA requirement to submit script for online rally broadcast".

The petition, which had garnered over 8,000 signatures as of yesterday evening, claims the requirement "prejudices the opposition parties and makes such broadcasts irrelevant".

Fabian Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2020, with the headline 'Scripts not needed for online rallies, says IMDA'. Print Edition | Subscribe