The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) earlier today (Jan 2), has called on Minister for Manpower (MOM) Josephine Teo to retract the POFMA Correction Directions she issued to the party last year (Dec 14) and issue an apology.
In their statement today, the party says, “This is because the SDP’s statements in the three posts which the Minister cited are, in fact, true and correct”, adding that “MOM had accused the SDP of making statements that we did not make or cited different sets of data which it then used to accuse the SDP’s post as false. This is an abuse of POFMA”.
Under Pofma, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, the MOM said that SDP’s Facebook posts and article on Singapore’s population policy contained “a misleading graphic and false statement of facts”.
In their latest statement, the SDP wrote that they used the MOM’s own data to support conclusions they had drawn. They also claimed that, “MOM substituted our word “unemployment” in our post to “retrenchment” and then accused us of posting a falsehood. This is clearly an abuse of the law”.
Alleging that POFMA used to promote PAP’s interests
The SDP wrote that “the three SDP’s posts which Ms Teo cited cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered falsehoods, let alone deliberate ones”.
They add that the MOM “accused the SDP of saying things that we did not”, and that “the Minister used different sets of data from the SDP. It does not follow that its statements are true and the SDP’s false. If the SDP’s posts are considered falsehoods, then MOM itself would be similarly guilty with reference to its statements”.
The party also wrote that “For POFMA to have legitimacy, the Minister must apologise”.
They state that accusing a party of making “false statements of fact” is a serious matter that should be done only with the highest of standards and irrefutable evidence.
“Under such circumstances, we call on the Minister to not only retract the Correction Directions but also issue an immediate, unambiguous and public apology to the SDP and undertake not to make such similar acts in future, failing which we will be obliged to pursue the matter in a court of law” they wrote.
Similarly, in a Facebook post earlier today (Jan 2), Dr Chee wrote, “Clearly, the MOM has used the law for political-partisan purposes to stymie legitimate criticism of the PAP’s foreign PMET policy that has been and continues to be unfair to Singaporeans”.
What initially happened
On Dec 2, the SDP had published a sponsored Facebook post with a graphic showing plunging local PMET employment. This post and an earlier social media post published on 30 Nov linked to an article on the SDP website which asserted that the SDP’s Singaporeans First policy proposal “comes amidst a rising proportion of Singaporean PMETs getting retrenched.”
Refuting the statement that local PMET retrenchment is rising, the MOM said that the number of retrenched local PMETs and the number of local PMETs retrenched as a share of all local PMET employees has declined since 2015. MOM also said that the graphic the SDP published was wrong and that the ministry’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey shows that local PMET employment has risen steadily since 2015.
On Dec 16, while the SDP complied with the Pofma correction directions and posted correction notices on its article and earlier Facebook posts, it said that “the conclusions that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has come to are disputable”.
The party also said that it would be applying to cancel the Correction Directions.
Responding, the MOM said that it will “consider the grounds of their application should it be submitted”. /TISG