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“Fake news” Whatsapp message gives impression Catholic Church is unhappy with gov’t

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The Catholic Church in Singapore has issued a statement refuting a Whatsapp message which has been making the rounds. The church said the message was “fake news” designed to give the impression that the church was unhappy with the Singapore government.

“There are WhatsApp messages being circulated currently with an extract of one of Archbishop William Goh’s Scripture Reflections,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the reflection extract was taken out of context to favour a cause, agenda or ambition. This same message was circulated earlier in 2017.”

The extract which was being circulated had said, in part: “If those in government seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, this will breed jealousy and resentment.”

And:

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“Only governments and leaders who work for the good and well-being of their people without discrimination and favour will earn their respect and appreciation.   The task of every government is to ensure that there is progress for the people and that the economy grows to support the needs of its people.”

In its statement released on Saturday, the church said, “The author/s of the original WhatsApp wrote on his/her message that the Archbishop was “very brave” and cannot “tahan”, inferring that the Archbishop was unhappy with the government. Whereas in truth, Archbishop William’s Scripture Reflections did not refer to any one government, rather he wrote about the weaknesses and strengths of the different kinds of government – monarchy, socialism, democracy, etc.”

The statement added that the “malicious WhatsApp message is an attempt at distorting the original scripture reflection and is a variation of Fake News.”

“It is not only an un-Christian act against one’s brother, but that it is in violation of the 5th commandment (assassinating someone’s credibility),” it said.

It added that “this is one of the more insidious ways people use social media and instant messaging platforms to further their own agendas.”

The church called on followers to “help stop the spread of lies by not sharing dubious messages”, and urged that “one should always read an article, homily, or message in its entirety, and to seek its source especially if it is an extract. Without context, it is very easy to distort a message.”

The message could have been circulated once again because of the recent unhappiness over ESM Goh Chok Tong’s remarks about ministerial salaries.

At a public forum in his constituency several weeks ago, Mr Goh had decried that government ministers “are not paid enough”, despite receiving salaries of millions of dollars.

His remarks led to widespread criticism and unhappiness.

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