Doing the same thing and expecting different results

Sigh. The past connects to the present.

When it was first passed in 2014, the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) was sold as being for the protection of vulnerable individuals from harassment. But not only did the Government try to make use of POHA to suppress criticism, the first Government agency to make use of it was MINDEF. The Ministry of Defence! MINDEF can call upon whole regiments of Armour, artillery, fighter jets and frigates and yet it could claim to be “harassed” by mere words?

If I had still been an SAF reservist at that time, I would have been too embarrassed to know where to hide my face. The Government eventually lost at the Court of Appeal, but the first mistake it made was in using MINDEF as the test case to try to set the precedent. The idea of MINDEF being “harassed” was just too far beyond belief for the Government’s attempt to abuse POHA to sit well with the public. If the Government had used a softer, cuddlier agency as the first case, it might have stood a chance of easing in its interpretation of POHA without triggering such a strong reaction.

Which brings us now to POFMA. Immediately after the Government lost its POHA case, a Ministry of Law spokesman said that it was considering a new law against online falsehoods. And now, in its very first use of POFMA, the Government issues a correction order against an opposition politician for statements which are substantially opinions rather than facts.

So much for the scenarios of racial or religious violence, foreign interference in elections, or national security painted by the Government when it pushed the Act through. By no stretch of the imagination could Bowyer’s comments threaten the “public finances” of Singapore. Furthermore by targeting an opposition politician, the government just reinforces fears that POFMA is intended to be used to gag political opponents rather than in the national interest. Honestly, this was just stupid and will backfire on the Government. The Government expended a lot of political capital to push POFMA through.

Why did it waste it on such a trivial case as this ?


Ngiam Shih Tung


* The author blogs at



12 Responses to “Doing the same thing and expecting different results”

  • opposition dude:

    The PAP doesn’t care what you or I think Mr Ngiam, all it cares about are silly statements which it says can cause social unrest or some other silly phrase tehy cook up.

    If even an opposition member’s words are THAT powerful we would have had demonstrations a long time back. What we got was a riot in Little India back in 2013 started by NON SINGAPOREANS.

    So with POFMA it’s just another smokescreen created by PAP to protect its own interests. Sure they will use it whenever someone they don’t like posts an article about something challenging or questioning their authority but other than that it won’t be used for anything non political.

    So just sit back and enjoy the show. PAP loves making fools of themselves after all. They can sue everyone they want but they sure as hell can’t be bothered to address the issues that Singaporeans bring up!

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  • oxygen:

    POFMA IS BOTH THE CAUSE AND EFFECT of its own intent of “offence”. By hiding politically-sensitive information, it invites varied interpretations and that opens the pathway to terkan those they disagree with their own biased position.


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  • NotMyProblem:

    Now we have an Office of POFMA! POFMA’s one and only objective is to protect PAP’s Ministers from citizen questions, I wonder who’s paying this Office just to do the work for PAP’s ministers!

    POFMA is to protect ministers for lying, and to stop others from telling the truth. Now taxpayers are paying for members and staff of this Office to protect Ministers for lying.

    OMG, only Singaporeans allow such thing to happen!!

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  • DavidNeo&IreneVanessa:Bastards:

    I mean who is harassing who? Who has the means and resources to do so?

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  • Harder Truths:

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein.

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  • Flabbergasted:

    Lessons from last GE

    1). Social media writes as if the opposition has already won. This worries the fence sitters,mostly asset owners, thus a mad swing of votes to PAP. Personally, I don’t believe the vote swing is due to LKY’s demise.

    2) Every seat was being contested, this really spread the oppositions’ resources too thinly. That’s why we see jokers trying their luck, would you vote a chimpanzee?

    3) Opposition is too fragmented! Everyone wants to be PM, even speaking at rallies as if they are already in power. This worries a lot of people, especially the comfortable ones. Opposition, kindly try to work together and strategies.

    4) Take a leaf from grandmaster Chiam See Tong, let the PAP win some seats on nomination day, and fight the GE like a by-election.

    5) Opposition, please say good about yourselves, by all means. But, please don’t attack PAP for the sake of attacking, it leaves a bad taste to the fence sweaters.


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  • TruBlu:

    Pofma is just another PAPple’s weapon to protect n propagate themselves.
    It is not unlike GRC.

    So,its just another skirt for PAPyCRAP$ to claim meritocra$y.

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  • Eddie:

    Pofma is a rushed legislation that seems to be one sided whereby only the PAP govt can invoke on its people! What happens if the govt gives false or fake information eg fake Malay President; can citizens invoke Pofma on govt? Enacting legislation should be thoroughly debated in parliament, so that legislation should be fair to all and sundry – not one-sided!! What say you??

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  • in pap Spore INDIAN is malay:

    for those local born with a brain, it is clear as day the most sensitive is the one with the most to hide.

    the laughing stock is when pap clan member blatantly declared INSIDE 200m is not within 200m.

    the worst is when pap gang declared an INDIAN as malay selectable as malay president.

    such crooked tops. it is a wonder there still remains this 30% OPPO upright folks in small island Singapore.

    one day sooner or later in the future the 70% sheep shall realize how their sheep lives are saved by the 30% upright OPPO fellow citizens.

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  • Tremendous:

    I hope members of a certain party take the time to read the article and the posts here. Citizens are not less patriotic for disagreeing with POFMA, and not more patriotic for agreeing with it. They cannot blame citizens with comments/ conclusions that POFMA is used as a tool for political means. Many if not all our ministers are paid much more than the 2nd and 3rd highest rime ministers combined. They cannot blame citizens who ask for accountability when they kept running away from hard questions. Though POFMA is not their ultimate tool in the coming elections, it’s a no-brainer that it has a 99% chance of being used. Also ministers from that same party reserve the right not to answer for their blunders post-POFMA institution. They should know that there are a number of ministers who are very far from the mark, or past the expiry dates. And now they are asking us to work with them when trust is lost. If there is overwhelming support for these members in Parliament again, it’s hard to call Singapore a SMART Nation.

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  • nizhemoshou:

    A rogue govt with skeletons in its closets, not to say one that has accumulated piles high of skeletons in multiple closets would as pple say be afraid of even its own shadow and forever paranoid.
    What would happen to a rogue govt if anyone manages to pry open the closets and tell everyone what is inside? It would be toppled or voted out right? So its not trivail, it is survival to them not to let anyone to try n even peek into its skeletons closets.

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  • Wise-ing up SMART Asses:

    If you are neutral in situations of injustice, it means you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
    Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.

    Just imagine this: What if the kid you loved to bully at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only willing surgeon who could save your diseased life? – the rest of the pros backed out because you couldn’t afford them….

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