Man arrested for conducting exit poll 18 Oct 11

(Reuters) – Singapore has arrested a man linked to a popular socio-political website for conducting an exit poll ahead of the general election in May, the island’s leading Sunday newspaper said.

Joseph Ong Chor Teck was arrested for offences under the Parliamentary Elections Act and has since been released on bail pending further investigations, a police spokesman said, confirming a story in The Sunday Times.

The police did not provide more details. It is an offence to carry out private polls around an election in Singapore.

The newspaper said that Ong was linked to Temasek Review (www.temasekreview.com), a popular website for political commentary that is mostly critical of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). The site went offline about a month ago.

Ong was arrested on Sept 3 for conducting an exit poll during the general election on May 7, said the Sunday Times, part of the Straits Times group, which usually reflects government views.

Singapore’s long-ruling PAP swept back to power in May in the most hotly contested general election since independence, but the opposition also made historic gains.

PAP’s share of the vote fell to a record low 60 percent in the election against 67 percent in 2006, due to discontent over income gaps and immigration policy seen as too lax.

Singapore, the Asian base for many banks and multinational companies, gets top rankings as an investment destination and for ease of doing business in international surveys.

But critics say the city-state has few of the outlets for grievances normally found in a democratic society.

Amnesty International criticizes the government for penalizing activists for exercising their right to free speech, while Reporters without Borders ranks Singapore 136th in terms of press freedom, below the likes of Iraq and Zimbabwe.