There is no requirement for political parties and candidates to submit their scripts for e-rallies and other online campaigning activities, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Sunday (28 June).
In an article on gov.sg, IMDA said that for televised broadcasts involving political parties and candidates, Mediacorp is required to have political parties submit their scripts ahead of recording.
“This is to ensure that contents do not contain libellous statements or statements that may cause racial or religious tensions,” said the Authority.
Noting that parties and candidates were briefed on the matter last Friday, IMDA said that the guidelines for televised campaigning “has been the same arrangement in place since the 1980s”.
IMDA’s statement followed Progress Singapore Party (PSP) central executive committee member Michael Chua’s comments the day prior on the e-rally process requiring candidates from political parties to submit their scripts to IMDA within 48 hours before commencing such rallies online.
Speaking to members of the media during his walkabout at Holland Village in Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) last Saturday, Mr Chua added based on the IMDA briefing that the script also needs to be submitted to the Mediacorp studio for the subtitles.
“It is rather disconcerting to us, because traditionally in a live rally, the speaker, the candidate will present their ideas directly to the voters and residents,” said the PSP Tanjong Pagar GRC candidate.
Submitting the script to IMDA and Mediacorp beforehand could lead to the script being exposed to “other people”.
“In this instance, because of the mechanism of the e-rally, we have to submit everything ahead of time, potentially, other people are also looking at whatever we submit,” said Mr Chua.
“With this mechanism, there is a concern. We are just concerned that whatever we prepared has to be submitted within 48 hours deadline,” he added.
The Elections Department (ELD) earlier stated in its preliminary campaigning guidelines that as there will be no physical rallies in this coming election due to COVID-19 safe distancing measures, more airtime will be given to political parties and candidates.
Candidates can also opt to hold e-rally live streams, as up to 10 live streaming venues will be provided each day for online rallies from 1 July to 8 July at these timings: 7am to 10am, 12 noon to 3pm, and 7pm to 10pm.
What IMDA did not mention in its statement on Sunday, however, is that a 48-hour deadline does apply to scripts for televised political campaigning — which has been a target of criticism by the public.