The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill, introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has been passed on 4 Oct 2021 with its commencement date to be advised.
The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA) aims to counteract foreign interference in our domestic politics in the interest of Singapore’s national security, and counter hostile information campaigns mounted by foreign actors. It introduces directions to deal with harmful online communications activity and countermeasures to be imposed on individuals and non-individuals, who are directly involved in our political processes, termed as defined Politically Significant Persons (PSPs):
Political office holders;
Senior officials of a political party (e.g. member of the executive committee of a political party);
Members of Parliament (MPs), including Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs;
Election candidates; and
FICA retains the existing political donations requirements under the Political Donations Act (PDA) for all PSPs with some additional countermeasures, i.e. when FICA comes into effect, the PDA will be repealed with its provisions ported over to FICA. Defined PSPs are subject to the following countermeasures:
To report single donations of $10,000 or more from permissible donors, and multiple donations from the same permissible donor that amount to $10,000 or more in any calendar year;
Not allowed to receive anonymous donations beyond the cap of $5,000 during the relevant period or in any calendar year;
No foreigners will be allowed to volunteer for their political activities;
[New] To maintain a separate bank account to receive political donations, so that there are proper records of monies relating to their political activities; and
[New] To disclose affiliations with any foreign entity (including declaration on migration benefits).
Under FICA, a different competent authority may be appointed for different provisions in the Act and for different times. On top of regulating political donations, the competent authority will have powers, including to issue various directives against harmful foreign communications activity. A competent authority will be appointed to handle the administration of all processes related to election candidates and their election agents during election period. Likewise, a competent authority may be appointed to handle the administration of matters relating to the other PSPs.
In the meantime, before FICA commences, the PDA will continue to apply. Political parties and associations are required to continue to submit their annual political donation reports and declarations to the Registrar of Political Donations.
The Political Donations Act (Cap. 236) and its Regulations came into operation on 15 Feb 2001.
Political Donations Act (Cap. 236)
The Act seeks to prevent foreigners from interfering in Singapore's domestic politics through funding of candidates and political associations.
It prohibits political associations and candidates from accepting donations except from permissible donors, and restricts the receipt of anonymous donations to less than $5,000 in total per reporting period.
It also requires the three following groups of people:
Political associations, which comprise all political parties registered under the Societies Act, and any organisation whose objects or activities relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore and is gazetted as a political association under the Act
Any person who is or desires to be a candidate of any election and his election agents
Donors who have made multiple small donations with an aggregate value of $10,000 or more to a political association in a calendar year
to file donation reports periodically with the Registrar of Political Donations.
Political Donations Regulations
The Regulations spell out the procedures for filing of donation reports by the three affected groups of people mentioned above and surrendering of anonymous donations.
It set out the procedures for the application, issue and collection of the political donation certificate, which any individual seeking election to Parliament or the office of President must produce to the Returning Officer on Nomination Day in order to be validly nominated as a candidate.
It also requires receipts to be issued by recipients of cash donations.
The Registry of Political Donations administers the Act and its Regulations. It is located within the Elections Department at the following address:
11 Novena Rise
The operating hours of the Registry are:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5.30 pm
Closed on weekends and public holidays