Ex-Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng is not among those who consider the banning of Facebook pages Critical Spectator and Fabrications about the PAP (FAP) one of the best things to come out of the latest election season.
The commentator has vouched for the pro-ruling party pages, revealing that he personally knows the administrators behind the pages.
Facebook shut down both pages for violating its community standards. FAP was taken down ahead of the 2020 General Election while Critical Spectator’s Facebook page, which is run by a Polish national, was banned on the eve of Cooling Off Day.
Asserting that the pro-PAP pages were not taken down due to their content, Mr Cheng wrote in a Facebook post on Monday (13 July): “There is a conspiracy theory going around that Facebook collaborated with anti-PAP elements to take down pro-PAP websites.
“This is false. Facebook very rarely removes or unpublishes sites due to their content.
“However, ever since the American experience with fake accounts from Russia influencing the Clinton-Trump Presidential election, they have been very sensitive towards inauthentic accounts.”
Revealing that he knows FAP administrator Jason Chua and the blogger behind Critical Spectator, Michael Petraeus, Mr Cheng added: “I know Jason and unfortunately, he used unverified accounts to administer his pages.
“Jason’s page was taken down before the election in a sweep of socio-political sites that do not have verified admins.
“I know Michael too and his site was taken down for various complex ID issues. They are both doing their own thing to settle their issues.”
Mr Cheng said that he is “trying to help” and that he has a personal fondness for Mr Petraeus: “Michael is an enthusiastic entrepreneur and I like that.”
Revealing that his page is still around, despite alleged attempts to have it taken down, because of efforts he had made to comply with Facebook’s standards, Mr Cheng wrote: “I believe there were people who also tried to report my page, just because they disagree with me.
“But a year ago, I took time and effort to verify my identity, verify my source of funding, and made sure I was approved to comment on socio-political issues during election time. And thus I am still here.”
Vouching for the pages and their content, Mr Cheng wrote: “There is no conspiracy, and these sites were not removed for their content.”
Both FAP and Critical Spectator have been known to go after critics. FAP frequently made personal attacks against opposition politicians and civil society players while Critical Spectator’s author had a recent clash with prominent academic Cherian George.