Singapore GE: Parties, candidates and public told to be mindful of laws governing party political films

The Elections Department says in using film as a platform to conduct political discourse, all persons should respect the need to keep politics rational and grounded on facts. — Alernon77/Canva pic via TODAY
The Elections Department says in using film as a platform to conduct political discourse, all persons should respect the need to keep politics rational and grounded on facts. — Alernon77/Canva pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, June 30 — The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) yesterday reminded political parties, candidates as well as voters that they must not make, reproduce, import, exhibit or distribute party political films. This is because it has seen an increase in the number of politically themed online videos.

In a media release, ELD said that under the Films Act, party political films include films that are made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore, such as those “intended or likely to affect voting in any election in Singapore.”

ELD added that in using film as a platform to conduct political discourse, all persons should respect the need to keep politics rational and grounded on facts.

It said, however, that there are exemptions made to certain types of party political films. The “allowable films” include:

  • Live recordings of events held in accordance with the law such as recordings of live-streamed rallies or campaigning activities
  • Anniversary and commemorative videos of political parties
  • Factual documentaries, biographies or autobiographies
  • Manifestos of political parties produced by or on behalf of a political party
  • Candidate's declaration of policies or ideology produced by or on behalf of the candidate such as introduction videos on election candidates
  • Films made solely for the purpose of reporting of news by a licensed broadcasting service

ELD said the regulations ensure that political debate is conducted in a responsible and dignified manner, and not by using the film medium to “sensationalise serious issues in a biased or emotional manner.”

“The law thus upholds the seriousness of the election process,” it said, emphasising that all political parties and candidates must ensure that their political films do not contravene the Films Act.

Individuals who make or publish non-exempted party political films may be subjected to investigations and prosecution under the Films Act.

Those who are in doubt over the contents of a political film should consult with the Infocommunications Media Development Authority.

ELD also reminded the public that videos uploaded online should comply with the Internet Code of Practice set by IMDA.

Election and advertising

On another matter, ELD said that there have been socio-political entities and individuals — who are not political parties or prospective candidates — engaging in paid internet election advertising in the period leading up to the General Election.

Any Singaporean may put up unpaid internet election advertising on their own accord — except on Polling Day and its eve, Cooling-Off Day.

However, the publishing of paid internet election advertising could be seen as an election activity that needs to be authorised by a candidate or an election agent from Nomination Day, as required under the Parliamentary Elections Act.

This ensures accountability and that paid advertisements will not be used as a channel for foreign interference in the election process, or to bypass the election spending limits for political parties and candidates.

“The same requirements apply to the conduct of election activity in traditional ‘offline’ campaigning,” ELD said.

All election advertising must contain the name of the publisher and the name of every person for whom or at whose direction the election advertising is published, it added.

“For paid internet election advertising, additional particulars must accompany the advertising, namely, that it was paid for by the candidate, political party or an authorised third-party campaigner if the latter had paid for advertising.

“This can be by means of using words like ‘sponsored by’ or ‘paid for by,’” ELD said.

It stressed again that election advertising is not allowed on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day unless the election advertising was already lawfully displayed or published before the start of Cooling-Off Day and remains unchanged after its publication or display.

“The outcome of Singapore elections must be for Singaporeans, and Singaporeans alone to decide. Individuals who are not citizens of Singapore are prohibited from taking part in any election activity,” it said. — TODAY

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