Singapore GE2020: PSP raises concerns about submitting political broadcast scripts ahead of time

SINGAPORE – The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has expressed concerns over having to submit its scripts in advance for political broadcasts on national TV.

Mr Michael Chua, PSP’s organising secretary and candidate in Tanjong Pagar GRC, said the party found it “disturbing” to have to submit its speeches 48 hours in advance and was worried that the contents might be leaked before the broadcasts.

The 55-year-old was speaking during a walkabout in Holland Village on Saturday (June 27) with his Tanjong Pagar GRC teammate Terence Soon and party member Lee Hsien Yang.

Besides the usual party political broadcasts for parties fielding at least six candidates, a new feature this general election is constituency-specific broadcasts, which will give candidates three minutes each to reach out to voters.

With physical rallies disallowed as a result of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 , these political broadcasts have taken on added significance.

The PSP, started just last year, is set to be the largest opposition contingent this time, fielding 24 candidates in nine constituencies, more than the 21 candidates that the Workers’ Party plans to field.

Mr Chua told the media that PSP had concerns after being briefed about the procedure for the broadcasts by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Friday.

He said the party would have to submit the scripts in multiple languages to the IMDA and national broadcaster Mediacorp in advance, so that subtitles can be prepared.

“It is rather disconcerting to us because traditionally in a live rally, the candidates will present their ideas directly to the voters and the residents,” said Mr Chua.

But this time round, the speeches have to be submitted to the authorities ahead of time, and “potentially other people are also looking at whatever we submit”, he said.

“So what is the consequence of foreknowledge of whatever we are going to say? It’s something that we find rather disturbing as a party,” he added.

The Straits Times has contacted the Elections Department for comments.

During the walkabout, Mr Lee, 62, the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, weighed in on a controversy over PAP candidate Ivan Lim.

Mr Lim, 42, general manager (specialised vessels) at Keppel Offshore & Marine, has been accused of elitist behaviour during a military exercise and of being arrogant by people who claimed to have known him from polytechnic or national service. The criticism surfaced online after Mr Lim was unveiled as a PAP candidate on Wednesday.

Mr Lee said:”Well, the ruling party prides itself on the way that they select candidates. I don’t know whether they knew or didn’t know about some of these issues.

“If they knew about it, They didn’t seem prepared for it. And if they didn’t know about it then perhaps one should worry that the screening process is not as thorough as it can be.”

Noting that he was just a bystander, he added: “One has to hear what the person concerned has to say. And I think some of the people who have fed back have also been prepared to come forward.”

It was Mr Lee’s second walkabout in Tanjong Pagar GRC, the constituency of his late father and Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee remained coy on whether he would be contesting the general election for the PSP, saying instead that he was “guided by the party and I’m where they like me to help them (campaign)”.

But party sources told The Straits Times that it is unlikely he will be running.

After Holland Village, Mr Lee headed to Bukit Merah where he joined another member of the PSP Tanjong Pagar GRC team, lawyer Wendy Low, for a walkabout.

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