Event report – Post-Elections forum – What’s at Stake?

21 September 2015


MARUAH organised a public forum on September 19th to share thoughts and perspectives on the General Elections 2015 (GE2015) that took place on September 11th, 2015. The speakers were:-
Mr Alex Au, blogger and activist
Dr Derek Da Cunha, political analyst, author and independent researcher;
Dr Jack Lee, law academic with research interest in Constitutional Law;
Mr Rafiz Hapipi, youth counsellor and researcher, and MARUAH member;
Mr Sudhir Vadaketh, author and blogger;
Mr Terry Xu, editor of The Online Citizen

The speakers were experts who had been watching the General Elections and commenting on the process from one GE to the next. Read the rest of this entry »

[change of venue] Post-elections forum – What’s at Stake? – 19 Sep 2015

10 September 2015

[17 Sep update: Please note change of venue & timing]

A team of experts discuss & analyse the election results, and what it means for us.

  • Mr Alex Au, Blogger
  • Dr Derek Da Cunha, Political Analyst and Author
  • Dr Jack Lee, Law lecturer
  • Mr Rafiz Hapipi, MARUAH Election Watch
  • Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, Author and Blogger

The panel discussion will be moderated by MARUAH. We are also hoping for an interactive debate on the issue of General Elections in Singapore and would like to make some key recommendations.

Come join our forum to discuss these issues

Date: 19 Sep 2015
Time: 3pm – 7pm
Venue: 9 Penang Road, #13-03 Park Mall [map]

Register at the link below

Summary on the stance of political parties on issues

9 September 2015

MARUAH recently wrote letters to political parties contesting the 2015 General Elections, to ask for their stance on various human rights issues.

As the responses were not forthcoming, MARUAH reviewed their stance using their election manifestos.

Below is the summary of the comparison. You can also click here for a PDF version of the file.

maruah review of manifestos

Apolitical Club Guide to Elections in Singapore

8 September 2015

The SMU Apolitical Club has released “A Guide to General Elections in Singapore”. Not to worry if you haven’t been able to get your hands on this very informative booklet. It’s freely available for download from their website. Excellent work on the part of the students and other members of the SMU community.

Vote with confidence

8 September 2015

election_jargon2 election_voting

Vote Wisely. Vote Without Fear. The Vote is Secret.

6 September 2015

MARUAH together with actors and actresses would like to share a video on the secrecy of the vote. We all believe that the vote is secret and we need not have any fear when we cast our choices for the political party on 11 September 2015.

The Polling day belongs to the Citizen. Vote Wisely. Vote Without Fear. The Vote is Secret.

Sampling Check results to be publicly released

2 September 2015

The Elections Department will be publicly releasing the results of the sampling check conducted during counting of votes. Sampling checks have been conducted in past elections but this is the first time that ELD will be releasing the results to the public and to candidates.



MARUAH has written to the media and to ELD in the past asking it to either stop the practice or to release the results to the candidates. ELD’s disclosure of the results and procedures used for the sampling check increase the transparency and fairness of Singapore’s election process.

Survey of voter concerns 2015 General Election

29 August 2015

During the run up to the elections we are conducting a survey on ‘My Concerns for this General Election’.
Please help us fill in the survey and share it with your friends. Please click on the link below to participate.


Letter to ELD on electoral procedures and negative campaigning

28 August 2015

28 August 2015

Mr Lee Seng Lup
Head, Elections Department
11, Prinsep Street
Singapore 187949

Dear Mr Lee,

We wrote to you on 14 August requesting for a meeting and to offer MARUAH as independent, non-partisan election observers. To date we are awaiting a response from your office.

Following the GE in 2011, we also wrote to you in May 2011, on the issue of voting dilemmas for people who were visually handicapped. We are grateful that you have since introduced voting aids to enable visually-handicapped voters to mark their ballot papers independently.

In 2013, another issue that we raised with you was the design of the polling booth. In MARUAH’s 2011 post-election survey, a number of respondents felt that there was insufficient privacy when marking their ballots. MARUAH suggested that screens, three-corner partition booths or curtains be used to ensure the secrecy of the vote. We hope that this will be implemented in GE2015.

Given that the GE2015 will be held very shortly, MARUAH looks forward to working with the Elections Department to ensure that our polls are held in a free and fair manner at all levels of the electoral process. MARUAH has listed below a few areas that the Elections Department needs to pay urgent attention to.

Security of ballot boxes
We note the change in election procedures, as described in the Handbook for Parliamentary Election Candidates 2015, to allow one polling agent for each candidate or group of candidates to be present on the bus used to transport ballot boxes from polling stations to counting centres. This is a welcome move and will help to strengthen Singaporeans’ confidence in the integrity of the election process.

Allowing one polling agent for each candidate or group of candidates to sign ballot boxes at time of sealing (instead of only being allowed to place a seal on the box)before they are moved to the counting centres, will make it easier for candidates to verify the chain of custody of electoral materials. It would be helpful for ELD to clarify whether the seals and signatures used by polling agents during sealing of ballot boxes may include elements of candidates’ logos, symbols or names, or whether the seals are included in the general prohibition of election advertising within polling stations.

Re-entry cards for polling agents and counting agents

Re-entry cards for polling agents and counting agents were used in the 2011 Presidential Election and 2012 by-elections to facilitate the taking of breaks by candidates’ agents, and re-entry procedures were spelt out in the candidates’ handbooks for those elections. We observe that re-entry procedures are not described in the 2015 Candidates’ Handbook. Nonetheless, we hope that re-entry cards for polling and counting agents will continue to be used and that the procedure(s) will be explicitly described in any Guides for Polling Agents and Counting Agents that may be published for GE2015. Consistency in approaches has to be part of the processes that we need.

Sampling Check

The Candidates’ Handbook (p 42) states that the purpose of the sampling check is to help election officials check against final count results. ELD should clarify whether any persons besides elections officials receive data from the sampling check prior to the official announcement of results for that electoral division by the Returning Officer. If any such disclosures are made, they should be made simultaneously to all candidates, for example, by the ARO announcing the results of the sampling check over the table at the time that the check is performed. We feel that this is the best way to ensure consistency and be transparent.

Adjudication of uncertain ballots

While the ARO on the ground must make the final decision in adjudicating any uncertain ballots, it would be helpful for ELD to publish the examples that it uses in training AROs so that counting agents and the public will better understand the thought processes and the criteria used to reject or accept a ballot. There have been instances in the past where disputes have arisen (examples of such incidences in 2011 have been written about on the Yawning Bread website and letters from the Singapore Democratic Party) and we can avoid this for GE 2015.

New restrictions on speakers at election meetings

The new rules prohibiting leaders of a political party from speaking at rallies organised by other parties is deplorable. There is no plausible reason for the rules on grounds of public order or safety. This rule is a gross violation of Singaporeans’ right to free speech. The rules will severely cripple a specific group of candidates from the Democratic Progressive Party and the Singapore People’s Party, who have come
together to put forward a collaborative challenge to the contestants from the ruling party of the People’s Action Party. We contend that this is unfair to the two opposition parties. While this rule was apparently made for a short-term political purpose, it has long-term implications in that it creates a barrier by administrative fiat to the establishment of coalitions between political parties in Singapore despite the fact that there is no constitutional or statutory basis for doing so.

Campaigning and Ethical Practices

We cite the recent case of Workers’ Party’s candidate Dr Daniel Goh who came under attack through an anonymous letter that he was having an affair. What concerns us is the approach taken by the media houses – Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp – to publicise the letter and generate stories. How do these practices resonate with what ELD has given as guidelines in (page 21 and 22) and also in Section 10.1(d) & (e) on page 56? We believe these guidelines are targeted at political parties for them to observe ethical practices, maintain a fair discourse in terms of “public interest” and to prevent deterioration into ‘gutter politics’. We ask ELD what are the guidelines for media houses, including on registered online ones.

MARUAH fully recognises that holding General Elections is a difficult exercise. However, MARUAH remains hopeful that the Elections Department will be willing to accept our assistance to ensure that free and fair elections with a high level of decorum do take place in Singapore.

We look forward to hearing from you shortly and we would like you to note that as a matter of public interest we will place this letter on our website.

Yours Sincerely,
Braema Mathi and Ngiam Shih Tung
Co-chairpersons of MARUAH Election Watch

About MARUAH Singapore
MARUAH is a human rights NGO based in Singapore.

“Maruah” means “dignity” in Malay, Singapore’s national language. Human rights is fundamentally about maintaining, restoring and reclaiming one’s dignity, and MARUAH strives to achieve this by working on national and regional human rights issues. MARUAH is also the Singapore focal point of the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, which is officially recognised in the ASEAN Charter as an entity associated with ASEAN.

More information on MARUAH at http://www.maruah.org

Is my vote really secret?

28 August 2015

Do you have doubts about voting secrecy in Singapore? Ever wondered why ballot serial numbers are necessary at polling? In this video posted during the previous General Elections, Singaporeans from different walks of life come together to speak about their voting experiences.