Singapore—Controversial figure Alex Tan was given yet another correction direction under Singapore’s anti-online falsehoods law, this time for a piece in the National Times Singapore Facebook page concerning POFMA, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, itself.
On May 15, a post on the National Times Singapore Facebook page claimed that “Every criticism has been outlawed by the Singapore government through its new POFMA legislation, where the politicians in power get to decide what is truth” and that K Shanmugam, Singapore’s “Minister for Law” had issued a POFMA direction to ban a video.
Mr Shanmugam instructed the POFMA office to issue a Correction Direction on May 27 (Wednesday) to the National Times Singapore page, as well as a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook.
A rebuttal of the allegations in the National Times Singapore post was published on the government site Factually on May 27 as well, with the following explanation as to why the claims in the post are false.
“It is false that ‘politicians in power get to decide what is truth’ under POFMA. This had previously been explained when an earlier POFMA direction was issued. POFMA applies only to factual statements that are false (Section 2(2) of POFMA). It does not apply to opinions. If there is a dispute as to whether the statement is false, or whether it is a statement of fact, the dispute can be determined by the Courts. The Courts have, over centuries, developed criteria for assessing falsehoods, and will be the final arbiters of whether there is a falsehood under POFMA.
For the reasons above, it is therefore also untrue to say that POFMA outlaws every criticism of the Government. Before and after POFMA came into force, the Government has been regularly criticised on various matters. These criticisms have not been subject to POFMA.”
Additionally, Factually said that Mr Shanmugan has not issued a POFMA direction to ban any video and that the video which had been subject to a POFMA direction issued earlier can still be viewed by the public.
The clarification on Factually pointed out that Mr Tan “continues to publish falsehoods that distort the public’s understanding of the law and how it has been implemented.” It added that Mr Tan had alleged that Mr Shanmugam is facing criminal charges in Malaysia, and that there is a court order against him issued in that country, both of which are false.
This is the sixth time that Mr Tan has been issued correction directions under POFMA for online falsehoods in the following Facebook pages: the States Times Review and Singapore States Times.
Mr Tan, who is based in Australia and says he is a citizen of that country, has refused to comply with any of the correction directions issued to him. —/TISG