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The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has released a press statement (October 9) calling out the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) for their own use of children in images posted on the latter’s social media page.

Prior to this, upon revamping its website (September 20), featured a little girl in a short video clip. The child reveals that the SDP has been “hard at work developing alternative policies and doing physical outreach” but considers its online presence equally important.

In their video, the little girl also announced that the SDP has revamped its website in preparation for the next General Election and that the website has been designed to suit mobile digital devices like mobile phones and tablets.

The child also repeats the SDP’s election slogan: “SDP Now”.

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After the release of SDP’s video, not only did one Mr Sean Lim Wei Xin write in to the Forum section of the Straits Times about his concerns “to see a child anchoring the minute-long video and promoting the party brand”, he also asked if the Elections Department “had guidelines regarding the use of minors in political advertising?”

The letter writer also added, “It seems inappropriate for children to be used as the face of a political party – be it the People’s Action Party or the opposition – to advance its agenda. Children should not be involved in conveying a party’s message directly”.

To the entire saga, Tay Chai Luan, Senior Assistant Director of Political Donations and Communications at the Elections Department released a statement (October 6) clarifying the entire matter.

“The Parliamentary Elections Act prohibits primary and secondary school students from taking part in election activities during the period beginning with Nomination Day and ending with the start of Polling Day.

Thus, primary and secondary school students are not allowed to appear in a video or take part in other activities to promote a political party during this period.

While this prohibition does not apply outside of this period, we agree with the writer that political parties should refrain from inappropriate use of young children who will not fully understand what they may be promoting or subjecting themselves to”, the department’s statement read.

The SDP then took to calling out the incumbents for being guilty of using children as props as well. They wrote, “But finger-pointing is best done in front of the mirror. The PAP has never been shy of using young children as props for its own ends”.

The party’s press release also added, “In our case, the young child appearing in our video is the daughter of one of our CEC members. Both she and her parents are happy with the production.

In the SDP, we have a proud tradition of involving our family members in our activities. This is because we stand for and champion values like compassion, courage and diversity, values that we feel our children are better off learning at a young age. A family that works together, stays together”.

Questioning the incumbents, they asked, “In the PAP’s case, we’d like to know if any of the children appearing in the pictures posted on its Facebook understand “what they may be promoting or subjecting themselves to”? More importantly, was parental consent obtained?”. /TISG

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