BBBE: Police to investigate The Independent, Teo Soh Lung, Roy Ngerng for ‘election advertising’

May 27, 2016 03.00PM |

IT’S a big day for The Independent Singapore (TISG) – in more ways than one.

Just as it’s sitting down to announce news of its partnership with The Opinion Collaborative Ltd this afternoon (May 27), the Elections Department has issued a statement saying police reports have been filed against the socio-political website for publishing several articles online that could be considered as election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, an individual convicted for posting election advertising on Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day may be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed for a year. Cooling-Off Day for the Bukit Batok by-election was on May 6. Polling Day was May 7.

The police reports were filed by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO).

Apart from TISG, the ARO also filed reports against two individuals: Ms Teo Soh Lung and Mr Roy Ngerng for the same breaches.

Here are the list of stories which the Elections Department said was in breach of the Parliamentary Elections Act. At the time of this report, the stories were not taken down yet and were still available.

For The Independent –

  • “5 highlights of DPM’s speech – Tharman wants to debate with Chee, but not in Parliament”, published May 6
  • “Workers’ Party and the Bukit Batok by-election – What the WP members said”, published May 6
  • “Tan Cheng Bock denies involvement in posting by irrational group of PAP fans”, published May 7

For Ms Teo Soh Lung – 

  • a note that PAP and SDP had not been given equal airtime and coverage on Channel News Asia news, published May 6
  • an SDP photo calling for support for Dr Chee, published May 6
  • a picture containing quotes from unidentified individuals stating why they would vote for Dr Chee, published May 6
  • a link to a transcript of Paul Tambyah’s rally speech, published May 6

All of Ms Teo’s posts were published on her Facebook page.

For Mr Roy Ngerng – 

  • note on his Facebook page calling for submissions to an “I believe in Chee Soon Juan” photo campaign, published May 6
  • an article, “[Photo Campaign] We Believe in Chee Soon Juan” on his blog, “The Heart Truths”, published May 6

In its statement, the Elections Department said:

“In filing the police reports, the Assistant Returning Officer has taken into consideration the nature of the postings and the potential impact that they might have had. Socio-political sites such as TISG that regularly promote, propagate and discuss political issues should be accountable and responsible for what they publish.

“Not only did TISG publish articles that may be tantamount to election advertising on Cooling-
Off Day, it continued to do so even after receiving a specific reminder from the ARO not to post any election advertising during Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day.

The two individuals – Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng – also regularly engage in the propagation, promotion and discussion of political issues.”

Earlier today, TISG published a note announcing its partnership with The Opinion Collaborative Ltd, and the appointment of Mr Ravi Philemon as its lead editor, and Mr Howard Lee as opinion editor.

It said: “We are mindful that we operate in a highly competitive environment where multiple players are seeking the same funding pool to keep themselves in the game.”

“With our relaunch, we hope to give Singaporeans the variety that they need in current affairs.”


Featured image is a screenshot from The Independent website. 

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