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Contents  

Long Title

Part I PRELIMINARY

Part II DONATIONS TO POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS

Division 1 — Restrictions on donations

Division 2 — Reporting of donations by political associations

Part III DONATIONS TO CANDIDATES

Division 1 — Restrictions on donations

Division 2 — Declarations and donation reports

Part IV OBLIGATIONS OF CERTAIN DONORS

Part V OFFENCES

Part VI MISCELLANEOUS

THE SCHEDULE Details to be given in donation reports

Legislative History

Comparative Table

 
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Political Donations Act
(CHAPTER 236)

(Original Enactment: Act 20 of 2000)

REVISED EDITION 2001
(31st December 2001)
An Act to regulate donations to political parties and political associations and to candidates and election agents in a parliamentary election or presidential election so as to prohibit foreign donations and restrict anonymous donations thereto and for matters connected therewith.
[15th February 2001]
PART I
PRELIMINARY
Short title
1.  This Act may be cited as the Political Donations Act.
Interpretation
2.
—(1)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“anonymous donation” means a donation which the recipient is (whether because the donation is offered anonymously or by reason of deception or concealment) unable to ascertain the identity of the person giving the donation;
“bequest” includes any form of testamentary disposition;
“candidate” means a person who is nominated as a candidate at an election or at a presidential election, and includes any person (whether or not a member of any political association) who, on or after the date of the issue of a writ for the election or presidential election, as the case may be, is declared, by himself or others, as seeking nomination as a candidate at that election or (as the case may be) presidential election;
“donation report” means a report required to be prepared under section 12, 18, 19 or 21;
“election” has the same meaning as in the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218);
“election agent”, in relation to a candidate, means the person named as his election agent under section 62(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act or section 43(1) of the Presidential Elections Act (Cap. 240A);
“gift” includes bequest;
“market value”, in relation to any property, means the price which that property might reasonably be expected to fetch on a sale in the open market;
“nomination day” means the day of nomination at an election or presidential election, as the case may be;
“organisation” includes any body corporate (other than a body established by written law) and any combination of persons or other unincorporated association;
“permissible donor” means —
(a)
an individual who is a citizen of Singapore and is not less than 21 years of age;
(b)
a Singapore-controlled company which carries on business wholly or mainly in Singapore; or
(c)
in relation to a candidate, any political party he is standing for at an election;
“political association” means —
(a)
a political party or an organisation which has as one of its objects or activities the promotion or procuring of the election to Parliament or to the office of President of a candidate or candidates endorsed by the organisation; or
(b)
an organisation (not being a branch of any organisation) whose objects or activities relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore and which is declared by the Minister, by order in the Gazette, to be a political association for the purposes of this Act;
“presidential election” means an election under the Presidential Elections Act (Cap. 240A);
“principal election agent” has the same meaning as in the Presidential Elections Act;
“property” includes any description of property, and references to the provision of property accordingly include the supply of goods;
“recordable donation”, in relation to any donation report, means a donation required by this Act to be recorded in that report;
“Registrar” means the Registrar of Political Donations appointed under section 7, and includes any Assistant Registrar appointed under that section;
“reporting period” means any period for which a donation report is required to be prepared under this Act;
“responsible officers”, in relation to a political association, means —
(a)
in the case of a political association which is a body corporate, the persons for the time being holding the offices of chairman, managing director and company secretary, respectively, of the association, or any positions analogous thereto; or
(b)
in the case of a political association which is an unincorporated association, the persons for the time being holding the offices of president, secretary and treasurer, respectively, of the committee of the association, or any positions analogous thereto,
and includes any person carrying out the duties of any such office referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) if the office is vacant;
“Singapore-controlled company” means a company incorporated in Singapore, the majority of whose directors and members are citizens of Singapore or, in the case of any member being another company, where that other company is incorporated in Singapore and the majority of whose directors and members are citizens of Singapore, and where that other company has a member who is a company which in turn has a member who is a company and so on, where each of those member companies are companies incorporated in Singapore and the majority of whose directors and members are citizens of Singapore;
“writ” means a writ of election issued under section 24 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218) or, in the case of a presidential election, under section 6 of the Presidential Elections Act (Cap. 240A).
[19/2001]
(2)  Where a company has for the time being only 2 directors or 2 members, then, notwithstanding the definition of “Singapore-controlled company” in subsection (1), the company shall still be regarded as a Singapore-controlled company for the purposes of this Act if —
(a)
one of the directors is a citizen of Singapore; or
(b)
one of the members is a citizen of Singapore or a Singapore-controlled company.
(3)  For the purposes of this Act —
(a)
any money or other property which is transferred to a candidate, election agent or political association for a consideration which is less than the value of the money or (as the case may be) the market value of the property shall be regarded as constituting a gift to the candidate, election agent or political association, as the case may be;
(b)
anything given or transferred to any branch of a political association or to any officer, member or agent of a political association in his capacity as such (and not for his political activities or his own use or benefit) is to be regarded as given or transferred to the political association, and references to donations received by a political association accordingly include references to donations so given or transferred; and
(c)
any reference in this Act to the giving or transfer of anything to —
(i)
a candidate or his election agent; or
(ii)
a political association,
shall include a reference to its being so given or transferred either directly or indirectly through any third person.
(4)  For the purposes of this Act, any document or sum that is required by any provision of this Act to be sent to the Registrar shall be regarded as sent only when it is actually received by the Registrar.
(5)  For the purposes of this Act, any donation received by a candidate, election agent or political association by way of a donation by a trustee, in his capacity as such, shall be regarded as a donation received by the candidate, election agent or association, as the case may be, from a person who is not a permissible donor.
(6)  In this Act, “for the purposes of the candidate’s election” means with a view to, or otherwise in connection with, promoting or procuring the candidate’s election at the election or presidential election, as the case may be, including prejudicing the electoral prospects of another candidate at that election or presidential election.
Meaning of “donation”
3.
—(1)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, “donation”, in relation to a candidate at an election or at a presidential election, means —
(a)
any gift of money or other property to the candidate or his election agent;
(b)
any money spent (otherwise than by the candidate as permitted by any other written law) in paying any expenses incurred, directly or indirectly, by the candidate or by his election agent or any person authorised by his election agent;
(c)
any money lent to the candidate or his election agent otherwise than on commercial terms;
(d)
the provision otherwise than on commercial terms of any property, services or facilities (including the services of any person) to the candidate or his election agent; or
(e)
the provision of any sponsorship in relation to the candidate,
which is given, spent, lent or provided (whether before or after he becomes a candidate) for the purposes of the candidate’s election.
(2)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, “donation”, in relation to a political association, means —
(a)
any gift of money or other property to the political association;
(b)
any money spent (otherwise than by the political association or a person acting on its behalf) in paying any expenses incurred, directly or indirectly, by the political association;
(c)
any money lent to the political association otherwise than on commercial terms;
(d)
the provision otherwise than on commercial terms of any property, services or facilities for the use or benefit of the political association (including the services of any person);
(e)
the provision of any sponsorship in relation to the political association; or
(f)
any subscription or other fee paid for affiliation to, or membership of, the political association.
Excluded donations
4.
—(1)  Notwithstanding section 3, the following shall not be regarded as donations:
(a)
the lawful transmission by a broadcaster, free of charge, of a party political broadcast;
(b)
the postage-free election communications provided to candidates pursuant to any written law;
(c)
the provision by an individual of his own services which he provides voluntarily and free of charge (even if they fall within the course of his normal work); and
(d)
any interest accruing to a candidate or his election agent or a political association in respect of any donation which is dealt with by the candidate, election agent or political association, as the case may be, in accordance with section 9(2) or 15(2).
(2)  In the case of a candidate, the following shall also not be regarded as donations:
(a)
any money or other property, or any services or facilities, provided out of public moneys for the personal security of the candidate; and
(b)
where the candidate is the President or Prime Minister, a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary or Member of Parliament, any remuneration or allowances paid to the candidate in his capacity as such.
(3)  In subsection (1), “broadcaster” means a person who is licensed under the Singapore Broadcasting Authority Act (Cap. 297) to provide broadcasting services.
Value of donations
5.
—(1)  The value of any donation which is a gift to a candidate, election agent or political association shall be the market value of the property in question.
(2)  Where any donation, being money or property, is transferred to a candidate, election agent or political association for a consideration which is less than the value of the money or market value of the property, the value of the donation shall be taken to be the difference between —
(a)
the value of the money, or the market value of the property, in question; and
(b)
the consideration provided by or on behalf of the candidate, election agent or political association, as the case may be.
(3)  The value of any donation, being —
(a)
any money lent to a candidate, election agent or a political association otherwise than on commercial terms; or
(b)
the provision otherwise than on commercial terms of any property, services or facilities (including the services of any person),
shall be taken to be the amount representing the difference between —
(i)
the actual cost (if any) to the candidate, election agent or political association; and
(ii)
the cost that would have been incurred by the candidate, election agent or the political association, as the case may be, had the loan been made, or the property, services or facilities been provided, on commercial terms.
(4)  The value of any donation, being the provision of any sponsorship in relation to a candidate or political association, shall be taken to be the value in monetary terms of the benefit conferred by the sponsorship in question on the candidate or association; and any such value conferred on the sponsor shall be disregarded.
(5)  Where a donation referred to in subsection (3) or (4) confers an enduring benefit on any candidate, election agent or political association during the whole or part of the relevant reporting period, the amount to be recorded in any donation report required to be prepared under this Act shall be so much of the total value of the donation (as determined in accordance with subsection (3)) as accrues during the whole or part of that relevant reporting period to which the donation report relates.
(6)  In subsection (5), “relevant reporting period” means —
(a)
any period for which a donation report is required to be prepared under this Act; or
(b)
2 or more such periods.
Acceptance, receipt, etc., of donations: general
6.
—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, a donation is accepted —
(a)
by a candidate or his election agent if it is received and retained by the candidate or his election agent for the purposes of the candidate’s election; or
(b)
by a political association if it is received and retained by the political association for its use and benefit.
(2)  Where a donation is made to any candidate, election agent or political association by paying an amount into any account held by the candidate, election agent or political association with a financial institution, it shall be taken for the purposes of this Act to have been received by the candidate, election agent or political association at the time when the candidate, election agent or association, as the case may be, is notified in the usual way of the payment into the account.
Registrar of Political Donations, etc.
7.
—(1)  The Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, appoint a public officer to be the Registrar of Political Donations for the purposes of this Act, and such number of Assistant Registrars of Political Donations as he considers necessary.
(2)  An Assistant Registrar of Political Donations may exercise all powers and may perform all duties of the Registrar under this Act subject to the general or specific directions of the Registrar.
PART II
DONATIONS TO POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS
Division 1 — Restrictions on donations
Donations from permissible donors only
8.
—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, every political association must not accept any donation it receives if —
(a)
it is offered by a person who is not, at the time of its receipt by the political association, a permissible donor; or
(b)
the political association is (whether because the donation is offered anonymously or by reason of any deception or concealment) unable to ascertain the identity of that person offering the donation.
(2)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a political association from accepting during any one financial year of the association anonymous donations less than a total sum of $5,000, or such other prescribed sum.
(3)  In relation to a donation in the form of a bequest, subsection (1)(a) shall be read as referring to an individual who was at death a citizen of Singapore and not less than 21 years of age.
Return of donations
9.
—(1)  Where a donation is received by a political association and it is not immediately decided that the association should (for whatever reason) refuse the donation, all reasonable steps must be taken without delay by or on behalf of the political association to verify or, so far as the following is not apparent, ascertain —
(a)
the identity of the donor;
(b)
whether he or it is a permissible donor; and
(c)
if he or it is a permissible donor, all such details in respect of the donor as are required by the Schedule to be given in respect of a donor of a recordable donation.
(2)  Notwithstanding section 6, if a political association receives any donation which it is prohibited from accepting by virtue of section 8, or which the association has decided that it should for any reason refuse, then —
(a)
in the case of any anonymous donation, the requirements of section 10(1) must be complied with in respect of the whole donation; or
(b)
in any other case, the donation must be sent back, or a payment of an equivalent amount must be sent, to the person who made the donation or any other person appearing to be acting on his behalf,
within a period of 30 days beginning with the date when the donation is so received by the political association.
(3)  For the purposes of this Act, a donation received by a political association shall be taken to have been accepted by the political association unless —
(a)
the steps referred to in subsection (2)(a) or (b), whichever is applicable, have been taken within the time limited by that subsection; and
(b)
a record can be produced of the receipt of the donation and —
(i)
of the required steps being taken in relation to the donation as mentioned in subsection (2)(a); or
(ii)
of the return of the donation, or the equivalent amount, as mentioned in subsection (2)(b).
Return of donations whose donors are unidentifiable
10.
—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, where any anonymous donation is offered to any political association, and section 8 prohibits the political association from accepting (whether wholly or in part) the donation, the following requirements must be complied with:
(a)
if the donation was transmitted by a person (other than the donor) and the identity of that person is apparent, the whole donation must be returned to that person;
(b)
if paragraph (a) does not apply but it is apparent that the donor has, in connection with the donation, used any facility provided by an identifiable financial institution, the whole donation must be returned to that financial institution; or
(c)
in all other cases, the whole donation must be sent to the Registrar.
(2)  Any amount sent to the Registrar in pursuance of subsection (1)(c) shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
Forfeiture of donations not made by permissible donors, etc.
11.
—(1)  Where any donation, being a donation which, by virtue of section 8, any political association is prohibited from accepting, is made to a political association and has been accepted by the association, a District Court may, on the application of the Public Prosecutor, order the forfeiture by the political association of an amount equal to the value of the donation.
(2)  Where, on an application by the Public Prosecutor under subsection (1), the District Court makes an order of forfeiture or refuses the application, the political association concerned or the Public Prosecutor, as the case may be, may, before the end of the period of 30 days beginning with the date of the order or refusal to order, appeal to the High Court.
(3)  An appeal under subsection (2) shall be by way of a rehearing; and the High Court hearing such appeal may make such order as it considers appropriate.
(4)  The standard of proof in proceedings under this section shall be that applicable to civil proceedings.
(5)  An order may be made under this section whether or not proceedings are brought against any person for an offence connected with the donation.
(6)  Any amount forfeited by an order under this section shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
(7)  Where an appeal is made under subsection (2), subsection (6) shall not apply before the appeal is determined or otherwise disposed of.
(8)  In the case of a political association which is not a body corporate —
(a)
proceedings under this section shall be brought against or by the political association in its own name (and not in that of any of its members);
(b)
for the purposes of any such proceedings any rules of court relating to the service of documents shall apply as if the political association were a body corporate; and
(c)
any amount forfeited by an order under this section shall be paid out of the funds of that political association.
(9)  Where any amount forfeited by an order of the District Court under subsection (1) or an order of the High Court under subsection (3) where there is an appeal, is not paid in compliance with the terms of the order, the District Court or High Court, as the case may be, may, on the application of the Public Prosecutor, issue a warrant for the levy of the amount forfeited against any property belonging to the political association concerned.
(10)  Such a warrant may be executed in the same manner as a warrant for the levy of the amount of a fine under section 319(1)(b)(iii) of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010.
[15/2010 wef 02/01/2011]
(11)  Where any amount recovered under any warrant issued under subsection (9) is in excess of the amount forfeited under this section, the balance shall be returned to the political association concerned.
Division 2 — Reporting of donations by political associations
Annual donation report
12.
—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, the responsible officers of every political association shall, within 31 days after the close of each financial year of the association, prepare and send to the Registrar a donation report under this section in respect of every recordable donation referred to in subsections (2) and (3), giving all such details in respect of each donor thereof as are required by the Schedule to be given in respect of a donor of a recordable donation.
(2)  Every donation from a permissible donor to a political association which is received by the political association during its financial year and accepted by the political association must be recorded in a donation report under this section for that financial year —
(a)
if it is a single donation of not less than $10,000, or such other prescribed sum; or
(b)
if, when it is added to any other donation from the same permissible donor, the aggregate amount of the donations is not less than $10,000, or such other prescribed sum.
(3)  If during any financial year no donations have been received by the political association which, by virtue of the provisions of this section, are required to be recorded in a donation report for that financial year, the donation report shall contain a statement to that effect.
(4)  Every donation report of a political association under this section shall be in the prescribed form and signed by all the responsible officers of the political association.
Submission of accompanying declarations
13.  Every donation report under section 12 shall, when sent to the Registrar, be accompanied by a declaration in the prescribed form made by the responsible officers of the political association which states that, to the best of their knowledge and belief —
(a)
all donations recorded in the donation report as having been accepted by the political association are from permissible donors; and
(b)
during the financial year to which the donation report relates —
(i)
no other donations required by this section to be recorded in the donation report have been accepted by the political association;
(ii)
no anonymous donation in excess of the amount permitted under section 8(2) has been accepted by the political association; and
(iii)
no other donation from any person or body other than a permissible donor has been so accepted by the political association.
PART III
DONATIONS TO CANDIDATES
Division 1 — Restrictions on donations
Prohibition of donations from impermissible donors
14.
—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, every candidate and his election agent must not accept any donation he receives if —
(a)
it is offered by a person who is not, at the time of its receipt by the candidate or his election agent, a permissible donor; or
(b)
the candidate or his election agent is (whether because the donation is offered anonymously or by reason of any deception or concealment) unable to ascertain the identity of the person offering the donation.
(2)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a candidate at an election and his election agent, or a candidate at a presidential election and his principal election agent, from accepting during the relevant period anonymous donations less than a total sum of $5,000, or such other prescribed sum.
(3)  In relation to a donation in the form of a bequest, subsection (1)(a) shall be read as referring to an individual who was at death a citizen of Singapore and not less than 21 years of age.
(4)  In this section, “relevant period”, in relation to a candidate and his election agent or (as the case may be) principal election agent, means —
(a)
in the event a writ is issued within 12 months of 15th February 2001, the period beginning on that date and ending on the latest date the candidate’s declaration under section 19 is required by that section to be sent to the Registrar; or
(b)
in any other case, the period beginning on a date 12 months preceding the date the declaration is made by the candidate under section 18 before nomination day at an election or (as the case may be) a presidential election, and ending on the latest date the candidate’s declaration under section 19 is required by that section to be sent to the Registrar after the election or (as the case may be) presidential election.
Return of donations
15.
—(1)  Where a donation is received by a candidate or his election agent and it is not immediately decided that the candidate or election agent should (for whatever reason) refuse the donation, all reasonable steps must be taken without delay by the candidate or election agent to verify or, so far as the following is not apparent, ascertain —
(a)
the identity of the donor;
(b)
whether he or it is a permissible donor; and
(c)
if he or it is a permissible donor, all such details in respect of the donor as are required by the Schedule to be given in respect of a donor of a recordable donation.
(2)  Notwithstanding section 6, if a candidate or his election agent receives a donation which he is prohibited from accepting by virtue of section 14, or which the candidate or his election agent has decided he should for any reason refuse, then —
(a)
in the case of any anonymous donation, the requirements of section 16(1) must be complied with in respect of the whole donation; or
(b)
in any other case, the donation must be sent back, or a payment of an equivalent amount must be sent, to the person who made the donation or any other person appearing to be acting on his behalf,
within a period of 30 days beginning with the date when the donation is so received by the candidate or his election agent, as the case may be.
(3)  For the purposes of this Act, a donation received by a candidate or his election agent shall be taken to have been accepted by the candidate or his election agent unless —