After Workers’ Party (WP) member Leon Perera raised a question in Parliament on the efficacy of issuing directives under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) as a means to reinforce public trust, People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Indranee Rajah’s stepped up to address his concern. Netizens, however, did not find Ms Raja’s response to be much of an answer.
The Workers’ Party on Wednesday (May 13) shared a video clip of a Parliamentary session which took place on May 5. The 2-minute segment highlighted Mr Perera raising a question regarding the POFMA, which, according to Singapore Legal Advice, serves to prevent the spread of fake news and maintain public trust.
“If we take the approach that POFMA directives are going to be issued every time a false figure is given for compensation of the top management of sovereign wealth fund or the CEO of Temasek holdings and those POFMA directives are issued…but the real figure is not given, does that really meet the objective of reinforcing public trust in those institutions?” Mr Perera asked, “Or does that actually potentially erode public trust because it would breed more speculation to no constructive end?”
In response to the issue raised, Ms Rajah began by restating Mr Perera’s question. “So the question really is this–the issue that has now been put in play by the application for judicial review is whether there is a question of public interest,” she said, “and that is before the court. And the court is an independent tribunal that will make that decision. So at the end of the day, insofar as the specific question of public trust is involved, the court will decide on that.”
As for the issue of public trust, Ms Rajah explained that “public trust will be upheld because the public will know that when the court decides on this issue whether or not the test under POFMA was met. ”
Though Mr Perera’s question made sense to most, many netizens could not say the same for Ms Rajah’s response. Thus, a number of Facebook users flocked to the comments section of the WP’s post to express their confusion over what they took as Ms Rajah’s “non-answer.”
Facebook user Micky Rock pointed out the circular motion of the PAP’s response to the WP’s question. “Brilliant question but an idiotic answer. She throws the question to the courts and the court may throw the question back to Parliament.”
A Jack Yu, on the other hand, put it plainly–“Basically she is saying there will be public trust because the public will trust them.”
Other netizens joined in to point out Ms Rajah’s failure to answer Mr Perera’s question.
In Parliament, Leon Perera asked if POFMA directives addressed the issue of public trust. In cases where a POFMA…