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Elections Department files police report against New Naratif website for breaching election advertising rules during GE2020

SINGAPORE — A police report has been filed against socio-political website New Naratif for breaching election rules during the 2020 General Election.

Elections Department files police report against New Naratif website for breaching election advertising rules during GE2020
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SINGAPORE — A police report has been filed against socio-political website New Naratif for breaching election rules during the 2020 General Election.

The Elections Department (ELD) said on Friday (Sept 18) that the website had published paid advertisements that amounted to illegal conduct of election activity under Section 83(2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

The Assistant Returning Officer, who assists in overseeing the smooth running of the General Election, had issued three notices to Facebook on July 3, 7 and 8 to remove five unauthorised paid advertisements published on New Naratif’s Facebook page.

“Under the Act, the conduct of any election activity requires prior written authority signed by a candidate or his election agent,” ELD said.

The department added that “election activity” includes any activity done for the purpose of promoting or procuring the electoral success at any election for one or more identifiable political parties, candidates or groups of candidates. 

It also includes any activity that prejudices the electoral prospects of other political parties, candidates or groups of candidates at the election.

“Neither New Naratif nor its representatives or agents were authorised by any candidate or election agent in this General Election to conduct election activity,” ELD said.

After the first takedown notice was issued to Facebook on July 3, ELD said that it released a media statement about it, saying New Naratif was deemed to be conducting election activity for placing paid internet election advertising, though the website had not been authorised to do so.

The statement also reminded the public of the regulations, but on July 4, New Naratif publicised the takedown decision and continued to publish other paid advertisements.

Conducting election activity without authorisation by a candidate or his election agent from the start of the campaign period is an offence under Section 83(2) of the Act. 

Any person convicted of such an offence may be fined up to S$2,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

On Saturday, New Naratif managing director Thum Ping Tjin said the website “condemns the recent police report made by the Singapore Elections Department against it as a politically motivated attack on freedom of expression”.

He also described it as “harassment” and urged the government to “drop its long-standing campaign” against the website. 

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Elections Department New Naratif SGVotes2020 advertisement Singapore General Election

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