From September 2 until yesterday, the Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) received over 50 reports of election infractions, more than ten of which were forwarded to the Public Security Police Force (PSP).
“PSP reported to us that it has collected evidence regarding 14 of the cases, having prosecuted them, including the ones forwarded by us and the ones identified by the PSP itself,” CAEAL president Tong Hio Fong told journalists yesterday on the sidelines of the commission’s meeting.
Following investigations, those found guilty of destroying candidates’ election publicity materials have been arrested.
“Most of the infractions consisted of candidates carrying out propaganda illegally: they either did not display their posters at permitted locations, or attach the publicity materials inside buildings but without the approval of the buildings’ owners committee,” explained Tong.
CAEAL has yet to receive reports of electoral bribery. PSP was recently notified of publicity materials posted inside a shop, in violation of election regulations.
“If the shop owners had agreed to put the posters inside their premises, it would have been OK. But the posters cannot be seen from the outside,” said Tong.
Lawmakers Song Pek Kei, Ella Lei and Pereira Coutinho, among others, have claimed to have been defamed during the campaign.
“If anyone disobeys the election regulations, we will handle it according to the law. We will even request the related department to issue the punishment,” said Tong.
As for the alleged defamation, he said, “it cannot be solved by CAEAL simply putting out a few words saying whether the defamation exists or not.”
“Any accusation, whether true or not, ought to be verified. Otherwise, we do not have the ability to judge whether the related statements are real or false. If the people involved think that they have been somehow insulted by these words, they should report it to the police.”
Tong noted that CAEAL received around ten reports of defamation.
The commission informed the complainants to report the cases to the police.
“Individual cases are difficult to handle,” said Tong, who explained that CAEAL can handle cases which obviously violate the regulations, or concern false accusations that candidates violated the election regulations.
A candidate had previously applied to organize an assembly next to the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM). IACM rejected the application and the candidate appealed to the court.
Regarding the court’s ruling, Tong agreed with IACM’s decision.
“We have reviewed the court ruling. Indeed, there are some flaws in IACM’s refusal document where IACM did not explain the reasons for the refusal. The court ruling clearly states that one assembly should not affect other candidates in carrying out their election campaign. From the ruling, we know that the assembly locations cannot overlap [with] the locations which IACM gave CAEAL for it to distribute to different candidates,” said Tong.
September 15 is the last day on which election candidates are permitted to display publicity materials.
All election-related campaigning material must be removed
Tong Hio Fong said that election teams are required to remove – before Saturday – all campaigning material, including that posted online via the Internet. The instruction concerns material posted during the official campaign period – running from September 2 to 15 – by any election team member, including candidates and trustees of nomination committees. The rule does not apply to anyone else that might have posted election-related information online said the president of the commission.