The Chief Editor of The Online Citizen (TOC) Terry Xu has responded on Facebook disagreeing with the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) after they released a joint statement accusing TOC of publishing falsehoods in an article and Facebook post.
The article, written by a contributor Ghui suggested that the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) “could potentially allow a Minister to deem a piece of news as “fake” and asked if “there a risk of this legislation being used to silence critics for a crucial nine days in the lead up to an election”.
That same day, Xu published a post on his personal Facebook page where he claimed that a minister or an individual appointed to handle an appeal “can sit on his or her ass for two days without doing anything before considering that the appeal is rejected.”
He also claimed that the ruling party could order a takedown on a story “only for the story to be proven correct after the election is won without the voters knowing what actually happened.”
The joint statement by the Law Ministry and MCI clarified, “The Act states that for the entire election period Ministers cease to exercise their powers under POFMA. Instead, senior civil servants are appointed as the Ministers’ alternate authorities for the election period.
The robust safeguards on the use of POFMA will continue to be in place during the elections.
It is disingenuous to talk about the need for voters to know “what actually happened”, while suggesting that falsehoods should be allowed to go unaddressed during an election period.”
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To this, on Sunday evening (October 6), Terry Xu responded saying, “I disagree with MCI’s statement as both post and article are of the authors’ opinion of how POFMA could be abused particularly in the event of a General Election, based on the time frame of an appeal against a takedown and correction order”.
It is unclear how the Law Ministry and the MCI intends to follow up on this matter. /TISG