The Originating Summons filed against Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) will be heard in the High Court on Thursday (Jan 16).
SDP said that it would mount its own arguments, as opposed to retaining legal counsel.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has announced its intentions to challenge the Ministry of Manpower’s fake news Correction Direction (CD) in court after its application to cancel said Correction Directions was rejected.
A statement released by the party today (Jan 7) said that “In rejecting the SDP’s application for the cancellation of the Correction Directions, the MOM has failed to provide any grounds for its decision”.
MOM’s reply to the party’s application simply stated that their application did not provide sufficient grounds for the cancellation of the CDs.
The SDP also noted in their statement that they had submitted a detailed account – including analysing MOM’s own statistics – of the reasons for the statements in their posts.
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”.
The SDP complied with the CD, but refuted conclusions that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo drew.
“On the other hand, Minister Josephine Teo, despite having the entire Ministry and its officials at her disposal with two full working days and an entire weekend to refute our specific arguments, has refused to do so or been unable to do so. This is telling”, the party added.
Replying that the “Minister has therefore decided to refuse your Application” is not an answer, it is a cop-out”, the party wrote in their statement.
In a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 13), the SDP’s secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan wrote that “the matter is scheduled to be heard in Chambers (6F) rather than open court. This means that the public and media will not be allowed to attend”.
The SDP will, however, apply to the judge to have the case heard in open court. This will be the first thing we do when the session is convened on Thursday morning. If the judge allows our application, the case will, presumably, be transferred to and continued in Court 6F.
Given that the matter has drawn widespread and intense public interest, the SDP is of the view that the case be open to the public”, he added.
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”.