RSF’s statement on the use of POFMA by the Singapore government

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the totalitarian aspects of Singapore’s new, highly controversial “anti-fake news” law, under which the authorities issued two directives ordering “corrections” to Facebook posts within the space of a week.

The “corrections” are posted on a government web page called “Factually” that was up and running as soon as the law, the Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA), took effect in October. This page claims to present the “correct facts” as opposed to what the law calls “online falsehoods and manipulation” and displays  each “corrected” item with the word “FALSE” stamped on it in large red letters.The first directive was sent by the finance minister on 21 November to an opposition politician who had posted a note on Facebook questioning the investments made by two Singaporean sovereign wealth funds. It forced him to post a “Correction notice” at the top of his post with a link to the government web page with the “correct facts.”

 

A second directive was issued two days later, this time by law and home affairs minister K. Shanmugan. It ordered Alex Tan, a journalist responsible for the States Times Review blog on Facebook, to “correct” an article reporting that a whistleblower had been arrested in Singapore in connection with revelations about a ruling party candidate.

After Tan, who lives in Sydney, refused to comply, the government pressured Facebook to take down the student web page that Tan cited as a source. Facing a possible fine of 1 million Singaporean dollars (660,000 euros), Facebook did remove the page, albeit on the grounds that it violated its “authenticity policies” – because it had allegedly misused the official student union’s name.

“Ministry of Truth”

“The Singaporean government’s recourse to this ‘anti-fake news’ law is a very worrying violation of journalistic pluralism and independence,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“In both of these cases the authorities could have disputed the claims they disagreed with and, in the process, could have contributed to the public debate, which is what happens in a democracy. Instead, the city-state government preferred to impose its own vision of the ‘facts.’ In so doing, it acted exactly like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth and, on the grounds of preventing online manipulation, simply imposed its own manipulation of public opinion.”

Last April, RSF published an analysis of the draft version of this law, saying it had the potential to be a horrifying tool for censorship and intimidation.

Singapore is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

 

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16 Responses to “RSF’s statement on the use of POFMA by the Singapore government”

  • NotMyProblem:

    Who is paying for the Office of POFMA, it only job is to protect PAP’s Ministers and creates half truth with its own vision of “facts”?

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  • Reminder:

    Pay and Pay until organs also maybe taken and sold?
    Please remind your kids [touch wood], about the organs law long time ago, to vote in or out otherwise even organs also no guarantee in-tack. At least they are informed. A choice they need to know.

    How to apply….? Well, maybe they hope you forgotten.

    https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/legislation/hota-opt-out-form.pdf

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  • just what are they hiding:

    if our sgov is upright and operates on transparency and accountability, there is no need for this POFMA and what-nots.
    their work will speak for itself, which is not the case as it is.
    so fellow citizens im sure we know what to do at the voting booth.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Alamak – nothing new lah. $G people already used to this bullshit since 1959.
    Now they will put you in jail for simply having a different opinion.

    Never mind – we will just rename this site TRE Fake Emeritus – for all the fake news. Surely then they cannot touch us for honestly being fake?

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  • Sc:

    Feeling like internal sucurity act and

    Criminal law detainee law act upgraded?

    Just use the above 2 law will do.

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  • Sinchiapor: We don't debate!!!:

    All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others… The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    - George Orwell, Animal Farm

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  • Bapak:

    Who is paying Lau Goh’s trip to The 30th SEA Games?

    NotMyProblem:
    Who is paying for the Office of POFMA, it only job is to protect PAP’s Ministers and creates half truth with its own vision of “facts”?

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  • George:

    Khaw BW and Tan CJ are part of an intimidating totalitarian regime, VOTE THEM OUT !

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  • N.Jungne:

    Alarmak true or false, only opinion. Why bother?

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  • Totalitarianism and China:

    The rise of China threatens USA .

    Growth of Totalitarianism in Asia is not good for USA.

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  • RSF no effect:

    RSF has never had any effect helping singaporeans.

    USA also never talk about SG totalitarianism.

    What’s the use of Western democracy for SG ?

    Singaporeans need to depend on ourselves to fight for the country system we want that’s fair and just where citizens are the Masters of the civil servants.

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    PAP supporters are a bunch of petty sneaky hint droppers with no self respect. They like to employ all these small actions. In mandarin “xiao dong zhuo

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  • Asd:

    Thanks man.. I take it that if there is no correction I will take it as the truth

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  • Went to Japan:

    POFMA has largely been used on oppositions.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Went to Japan:
    POFMA has largely been used on oppositions.

    Of course! Do you think if you said something good about PAP, even if it was lie, do you think you will be POFMAed.

    It is not used only on Opposition, it is used on anyone as long as you said something bad about the PAP, even when it was truth.

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  • Question for RSF:

    RSF

    I like to ask you, can you call on more powerful organisations to help liberate Singaporeans from totalitarian rule?

    Everything you ever criticised about sg has absolutely zero effect in helping us.

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