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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Extra "cooling-off'' day for voters

A COPY OF MY LETTER IN MYPAPER
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 2, 2009

Have equal airtime for political broadcasts

I REFER to the report, “Extra 'cooling-off' day for voters” (my paper, Dec 1).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the idea of having a 24-hour period during the next General Election, during which campaigning would not be allowed so that voters can reflect calmly on their decision, had been on the table for many years.

This change would also apply to the presidential election.

He said that the legislation is almost done, and the Bill is expected to be ready for its first reading in January or February next year.

While there is merit in the idea of a “cooling-off” day, I hope its implementation will be fair to all political parties and the electorate.

It was reported that the “cooling-off” day will be, in effect, like Polling Day, as all forms of campaigning would be disallowed then, except for party political broadcasts allowed on the eve of the polls.

Traditionally, airtime for the political broadcasts is allocated based on the number of candidates fielded by the political parties.

Quite often, the TV media would cut off a broadcast based on the allocated time.

It would be good to give equal airtime to all contesting parties, so that their agendas are clearly understood by the electorate.

With a more sophisticated electorate having higher expectations, all political parties should be given sufficient time to present and summarise their final message prior to the polls.

It is also rude to simply cut off a candidate.

Allocating sufficient and equal airtime for all parties is about being fair to the electorate, not just to the political parties.

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