Singapore — On Friday, two Correction Directions were issued under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong issued a Correction Direction against AB-TC City News over a website article that claimed five Singaporeans who had not gone to China had contracted the Wuhan virus, and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing issued a Correction Direction against Mr Alex Tan of the States Times Review, who had put up a Facebook post that falsely said the country had run out of face masks.
In connection with Mr Gan’s Correction Direction, opposition politician Lim Tean and the Say No To PAP Facebook group were also required to post Correction Notices for sharing the AB-TC City News article.
According to a statement from the Pofma Office: “A Correction Direction is a Direction issued to a person who has communicated a falsehood (i.e. the recipient) that affects the public interest. It requires the recipient to publish a Correction Notice, providing access to the correct facts. The Direction does not require the recipient to take down their post or make edits to their content, and does not impose criminal sanctions.”
At present, there are 13 cases of confirmed Wuhan virus in Singapore, all of whom are Chinese nationals from Wuhan. No Singaporeans have tested positive for the virus as of Friday (Jan 31).
AB-TC City News has complied with the Correction Direction and published a Correction Notice. It has also taken down the original post that contained the fake news.
Mr Lim Tean and the Say No To PAP Facebook group have also removed the post, but the Pofma Office wrote that “they are still required to carry a Correction Notice on their respective Facebook pages. This will ensure that persons who had viewed their posts are informed of the facts.”
Mr Chan instructed the Pofma Office to issue a Correction Direction to Mr Alex Tan, who posted on the States Times Review’s Facebook page on Jan 30 that Singapore’s supply of face masks was running out.
The statement from the POFMA Office said: “The Minister for Trade and Industry has instructed the Pofma Office to issue a Correction Direction to Mr Alex Tan, and a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook. This is with regard to Mr Tan’s “States Times Review” Facebook post on 30 January 2020, 10:10 am, which falsely claimed that Singapore had run out of face masks”.
Mr Chan said on Jan 30 that Singapore has enough masks as long as residents manage their usage “appropriately”.
He said: “I understand many Singaporeans are concerned whether we have sufficient masks in our stockpile. Whether we have sufficient masks or not will depend on three factors: How much we have in our physical stockpile, our usage rate, and our resupply quantum and frequency. We will have enough if we manage these three factors appropriately.”
The earlier claims by Mr Tan are refuted on a page of the government website Factually, entitled “Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods published by States Times Review on availability of face masks.”
Mr Tan, who lives in Australia, has refused to “comply with the Pofma order on the basis that there is no need for a citizen to comply with censorship orders from a foreign government like North Korea and Singapore”, according to a Facebook post on Jan 31. -/TISG