Weighing in on the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) issue with the Ministry of Manpower’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Correction Directions (CD), former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng took to social media.
In a Facebook post last Friday (Jan 3), Mr Cheng opined that it was because the masses did not understand statistics and graphs, it has become the easiest way to try to shape opinions.
Agreeing with Polish blogger Michael Petraeus who said the SDP has been “lying with charts”, Mr Cheng said that the former made “some good points about the use of axes and data points to exaggerate statistics”.
Explaining that the difference lay with the time frame referred to in each graph, Mr Cheng said that the SDP used articles from the mainstream media that reports on PMET unemployment going up in the last year. He added that their graphs also show the same trend since 2010.
“Crucially, MOM’s reply is based on 2015, and specifically since the end of September 2015, the time when this Government was sworn into power”, he explained.
Mr Cheng continued, “I would argue that the relevant time period is the time this PAP government was sworn in, which was 13 January 2016. Governments are judged on their recent term of office. If the opposition is going to look beyond that, as SDP has done to 2010, then why not even further back ? In fact why not to 1965 or 1959 when the PAP first took power? That would be absurd”.
In his Facebook post, Mr Cheng went on to state that because the SDP was just presenting a specific time period, “what the SDP did was not exactly false, just selective and misleading”.
Adding that he did not think that this instance was a “good use-case or POFMA”, he explained that it might have been better to just state the statistics through out the entire period and that “the SDP is trying to mislead by selectively quoting time periods”.
On Wednesday (Jan 8), the party announced that it had filed an Originating Summons against Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo in the High Court.
This followed a press statement from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday (Jan 6) announcing that SDP’s application for the correction orders, which had been issued under POFMA, Singapore’s law created to combat fake news, had been declined.
The date for SDP’s High Court appeal has been set for next Thursday (Jan 16), at 10am. SDP said that it would mount its own arguments, as opposed to retaining legal counsel.
In SDP’s statement entitled “The People Against POFMA,” the party indicated that it has explained why Ms Teo was wrong to have issued the correction directives, providing documents that include statistical analyses of data from the MOM. Additionally, SDP also stated “that MOM had cited different sets of data as well as accused us of making statement that we did not make in order to support its case.”
Furthermore, according to SDP, Ms Teo had “arrogantly” dismissed its application to cancel the correction directives and had declined, or had not been able, to prove her allegations that the party did not give sufficient grounds for the cancellation. /TISG