Reform Party (RP) secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam returned to Singapore from England yesterday and will have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) - meaning he will not be able to participate in on-the-ground campaigning.
Party chairman Andy Zhu told The Straits Times that Mr Jeyaretnam wrote to the authorities to ask for a shorter SHN.
"The information that I have is that he has asked the relevant (authorities) for a shorter SHN," said Mr Zhu, who led several RP members on a walkabout in Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday.
Last night, however, the Elections Department (ELD) and Ministry of Health (MOH) said they were unable to grant a waiver.
"The Ministry of Health has assessed Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam's request for a waiver of the stay-home notice upon his return from the United Kingdom. For public health reasons, MOH is unable to accede to the request," it said.
"Mr Jeyaretnam is therefore required to complete a 14-day SHN at a designated SHN facility, and undertake a Covid-19 test before the end of his SHN, similar to all other Singaporeans returning from the United Kingdom."
Nomination Day is on June 30 and Polling Day is on July 10. Mr Jeyaretnam, 61, would not have completed his 14-day SHN by Nomination Day. He would do so only on July 9, Cooling-off Day.
A potential candidate can authorise a representative to submit the nomination papers on Nomination Day, if unwell and certified by a medical practitioner to be unfit, the ELD had announced earlier.
The authorised representative must possess a power of attorney expressly authorising the representative to represent and act on behalf of the aspiring candidate during nomination proceedings.
MOH said it is prepared to grant Mr Jeyaretnam "access to the persons required in order for him to issue the power of attorney, as well as to make his statutory declaration that the statements made in his nomination papers are true".
Singapore residents returning from overseas have to serve a 14-day SHN in a designated facility. They can serve the SHN at home, if they had spent 14 days prior in one of a handful of countries and territories, including Australia and Taiwan.
However, Britain is not on the list and Mr Zhu said Mr Jeyaretnam was in England to visit his son, who is studying there.
Yesterday, potential RP candidates turned up at the Ang Mo Kio Central Market to hand out fliers and speak to residents.
Mr Zhu, 37, was there with three other candidates - Ms Noraini Yunos, 52; Mr Charles Yeo, 30; and Mr Mahaboob Batcha, 52.
The party chairman said RP has been working the ground in the five-person Ang Mo Kio GRC since 2011.
"We have been through two contests in Ang Mo Kio and we believe it is not about the candidates who are coming back to serve (but) the party that is still around to serve Singaporeans," he told The Straits Times.
The People's Action Party (PAP) team won there in 2011 with 69.33 per cent of the votes, and in 2015 with 78.63 per cent. The team was led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in both elections.
The party has won in every general election there since the group representation constituency's formation in 1991.
In addition to Ang Mo Kio GRC, Mr Zhu said RP intends to field candidates in the single-seat wards of Radin Mas and Yio Chu Kang.
RP will not be back in West Coast GRC, where it contested unsuccessfully in 2011 and 2015.
In a Facebook post on June 23, Mr Jeyaretnam ruled out the GRC, saying it was to avoid a potential three-cornered fight with the PAP and the Progress Singapore Party.