Friday, 6 May 2016

Bukit Batok by-election: Cooling-Off Day


The day before Polling Day is known as Cooling-Off Day. There is a prohibition against election campaigning during this 24-hour period to give voters some time to reflect rationally on issues before voting.

However, there are exceptions to the prohibition of campaign activities on Cooling-Off Day: 
  • Party political broadcasts on television;
  • Reports in the newspapers, on radio and television relating to election matters;
  • Approved posters and banners that were already up, and lawful Internet advertising that was already published before the eve of Polling Day;
  • Books previously scheduled for publication;
  • The transmission of personal political views by individuals to other individuals, on a non-commercial basis, using the Internet, telephone or electronic means; and
  • Such activities or circumstances as may be prescribed by the Minister.
This list, except for party political broadcast, also applies to Polling Day.

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Dos and don'ts on Cooling-off and Polling Day

The Elections Department (ELD) has spelled out the "dos and don'ts" for candidates and their supporters on Polling Day (May 7) and Cooling-off Day for the Bukit Batok by-election.

Cooling-off Day on Fri (May 6), the traditional day of campaign silence introduced in 2011, is meant to give voters a chance to reflect rationally on various issues raised at the by-election before going to the polls.

No one is allowed to canvass or visit the homes of voters on both days, while holding election meetings is also prohibited.

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No campaigning on Friday, Cooling-Off Day

A 24-hr campaign silence period for the Bukit Batok by-election will come in effect on Friday (May 6), the Elections Department (ELD) said. Known as Cooling-Off Day, the period is to allow voters to reflect rationally on various issues raised at an election before heading to the polls.

Polling Day for the by-election is on Saturday, May 7.

On Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day, campaign activities such as canvassing, visiting homes of voters and displaying of any political propaganda are prohibited, it added.

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Are rules on Cooling Off day still relevant and do they actually work to achieve the intended objective?

While Singapore has inherited the British Westminster System of government and adopted many features of the democratic processes found in many first world countries, it has also developed certain unique nuances such as the Elected Presidency (EP), the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and the Cooling Off day to name a few.

Given the upcoming by-election in Bukit Batok, it is no surprise that the topic du jour is the ongoing war of words between Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Mr Murali Pillai and the wider PAP stalwarts. As election date creeps up on us, it would be timely to examine the dos and don’ts of Cooling Off day.

The widely publicised intent behind Cooling Off day is ostensibly to give voters a chance to reflect uninfluenced by campaign activities. To facilitate this time out, there is a raft of regulations put in place to regulate the conduct of candidates and campaigners on this political Sabbath day.

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What Can You Say on Cooling-off Day?

UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN living under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ll know that polling day for the by-election in Hougang Single Member Constituency is tomorrow, 26 May. This makes today “cooling-off day”, when no active election campaigning is permitted by law.

At 12:46 am today, one of my Facebook friends posted a hyperlink to a speech by Workers’ Party candidate Png Eng Huat delivered at the Party’s last rally before cooling-off day. The person added a comment to the effect that the article was worth reading, but that he would not quote any portions of it due to cooling-off-day restrictions.

Subsequently, another person posted a comment on the contents of the speech. The original poster then responded that that person might wish to delete the comment in view of cooling-off-day restrictions. Then ensued a discussion about what the law permits or disallows.

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related:
Police reports filed over by-election ad breaches
Bukit Batok polls: The aftermath
Bukit Batok by-election: And The Winner is
Bukit Batok by-election: Polling Day
Bukit Batok by-election: Cooling-Off Day
Bukit Batok by-election: Whose side are you on?
Bukit Batok by-election rallies - 1
Bukit Batok by-election rallies - 2
Bukit Batok by-election to be held on May 7
The Upcoming Bt Batok By-Election
Bt Batok MP resigns over 'personal indiscretion'