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Independent, Fabrications About The PAP warned by police for breaching election advertising rules

SINGAPORE — The police have issued stern warnings to websites The Independent Singapore (TISG) and Fabrications About The PAP for breaching election advertising rules on May 6 and 7 last year, during the Bukit Batok by-election.

Independent, Fabrications About The PAP warned by police for breaching election advertising rules

TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — The police have issued stern warnings to websites The Independent Singapore (TISG) and Fabrications About The PAP for breaching election advertising rules on May 6 and 7 last year, during the Bukit Batok by-election.

In a media release on Thursday (Feb 16), the police said the warnings were issued to Mr Masilamani Pillai Kumaran, Mr Ravi Chandran Philemon and Mr Alfred Dodwell, all from TISG, a news website, as well as Mr Chua Chin Seng, the man behind Fabrications About The PAP (People’s Action Party) Facebook page. 

Mr Kumaran is TISG’s publisher and editor, Mr Dodwell is its director and legal adviser, while Mr Philemon is the lead editor.

The police said the parties involved had published online articles in breach of the prohibition of election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day during the by-election.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, election advertising refers to any material posted on a platform intended to “enhance the standing” or “promote or procure the electoral success” for political parties or candidates.

On May 6, Cooling-off Day, the TISG published two articles, titled “5 highlights of DPM’s speech — Tharman wants to debate with Chee, but not in Parliament” and “Workers’ Party and the Bukit Batok by-election — What the WP members said”. 

On Polling Day, the website ran a third article titled “Tan Cheng Bock denies involvement in posting by irrational group of PAP fans”. 

As for the Facebook page Fabrications About The PAP — which is largely regarded as being pro-PAP — there were two posts published over the same period, one asking people to vote for the ruling party’s by-election candidate Murali Pillai, and another criticising Mr Murali’s rival, the Singapore Demoratic Party’s Chee Soon Juan. Mr Murali later won the by-election.

The police said on Thursday: “Upon careful consideration of all the circumstances of the cases, including the nature of the publications, the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided to administer stern warnings to all parties. Should any of the parties commit similar offences in subsequent elections, the stern warning that was administered can be taken into consideration in the decision to prosecute.”

The police also noted that the prohibition of election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day allows voters to reflect on the issues at stake before casting their votes.

“The Cooling-Off Day breaches detected during the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election go against the spirit of the election rule. Left unchecked, such breaches can undermine public trust in Singapore’s electoral process.”

The penalties for posting election advertising on those two days are fines of up to S$1,000 and/or a jail term of up to 12 months.

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