Singapore's Straits Times probed over voter 'poll'
Police said today they were investigating Singapore’s top daily newspaper The Straits Times over a voter survey it conducted ahead of a by-election in apparent breach of a law against polls during the campaign.
The January 26 by-election is for a seat left vacant when the former speaker of parliament, Michael Palmer, stepped down after confessing to an extramarital affair.
The Singapore Elections Department said an article published by the English-language newspaper on Thursday, a day after the election was called, was “currently being looked into by the police”.
Police confirmed the investigation.
The Straits Times disclosed the investigation on its website late yesterday and said it would cooperate in any police probe.
The broadsheet’s Thursday issue carried a report on a poll it conducted among 50 residents in the contested ward. The article was headlined “ST poll: More rooting for PAP”. The PAP, or People’s Action Party, has been in power since 1959.
“This was not a full-scale survey, or scientific poll, by any means,” editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez said in remarks carried by the newspaper today, vowing to cooperate with any police probe. “The headline for our story overstated the significance of the information gathered by calling it a poll. We are sorry for this lapse.”
The Straits Times is the flagship publication of Asian media giant Singapore Press.
In Singapore it is illegal to publish the results of voter surveys from the day the election is called until the end of polling.
Offenders can be fined up to S$1,500 (HK$9,489) or jailed for up to 12 months, or both.
The by-election will give a new snapshot of the public mood less than two years after the PAP suffered its worst ever election result in May 2011 when its share of the popular vote fell to 60 per cent.
It still holds 81 of the 87 seats in parliament, but has come under severe criticism for its handling of immigration and public services as well as the rising cost of living and widening income gap in the affluent city state.