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Asia Minute: Coronavirus Leads to Ban on Election Rallies in Singapore

AP Photo/Ee Ming Toh

This weekend, President Trump plans to address a political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Organizers say face masks will be optional. Elsewhere, rules are very different when it comes to political gatherings — including one of the economic centers of Southeast Asia.

Restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus vary from country to country, and often vary from state to state within the same country.  That goes for rules for public gatherings of all types — including political ones.

The run-up to South Korea’s general assembly election in April featured smaller than usual candidate rallies.

And now Singapore is going one step further.

If conditions are the same at election time as they are now when it comes to the coronavirus, no political rallies will be allowed. That word came on Thursday from Singapore’s Elections Department, which said that all political parties will be given extra television airtime instead.

Every candidate will get at least three minutes of national airtime for free. Candidates will be able to go door to door and walk through public areas to campaign, but only in groups no larger than five and safely distanced from each other and from any potential voters.

And everyone needs to wear face masks.

Trucks with loudspeakers may be used during the campaign, but only to broadcast recorded messages — no live speakers.

The date for the next Parliamentary election has not been set yet, but expectations are that it will take place sometime this summer.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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