Singapore—On Wednesday (Jan 8), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) 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.
Thus, SDP says it is “left with no choice” but to take matters to the High Court, adding that it looked forward to hearing the Manpower Minister defend her decision to not cancel the correction directives issued against them on the witness stand.
Furthermore, the party explained that it is resorting to taking legal action against Ms Teo as it deems her order to be “an abuse of the law.”
According to SDP, “If her POFMA order succeeds, then the last holdout where important national issues are openly and robustly debated on the Internet in Singapore would be irreparably closed.
In a political debate, the application of facts and logical reason to persuade the public must not be sacrificed for the whims and opinions of Ministers.
By her action, Ms Teo has plunged a dagger into the heart Singapore’s political system already plagued by anti-democratic rules that keep the PAP entrenched in power.
The PAP must not be allowed to be the accuser, prosecutor and judge on any political matter, let alone one like the foreign-worker issue which has been the source of much frustration and anger among Singaporeans.
If the ruling party gets away with using POFMA in such a slipshod and partisan manner, then every critic will be at its mercy.”
SDP maintains that it is fighting not just for itself but for every Singaporean.
Stating that the party would prefer to concentrate on the upcoming General Election, SDP has nevertheless chosen to file the High Court appeal to “stand up for our fellow Singaporeans and fight for what little space we have left in Singapore to uphold our democratic freedoms.”