Local filmmaker Martyn See has written an open letter to top ministers to clarify what exactly constitutes an online falsehood.
In the letter he gives a list of popularly used phrases online and asks the ministers which would be considered false.
The Law Ministry tabled the Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill in Parliament, last week. The bill, which aims to provide the Government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest, intends to give ministers the authority to determine what is an online falsehood.
The bill proposes that domain ministers can decide whether to take action under two conditions: when a false statement of a fact has been communicated in Singapore through the Internet, and when it is in the public interest to intervene.
See wrote on Facebook that he emailed his open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Finance Minister and presumptive future PM Heng Swee Keat, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran and Senior Minister of State Edwin Tong.
See asked the ministers: “As the proposed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act will authorise you to be an arbiter of truths, will you personally deem the following statements to be deliberate falsehoods and thereby classify them as unlawful speech?”
He then asked the ministers to look at the following 20 “oft-repeated sentiments found online” and determine whether these statements would constitute an online falsehood:
1. “Elections in Singapore are rigged to favour the PAP.”
2. “HDB prices are inflated to enrich government coffers.”
3. “That the Singapore government pays its ministers the world’s highest salaries is a form of legal corruption.”
4. “CPF funds are used to shore up losses suffered by Temasek Holdings and GIC.”
5. “Singapore is a money laundering hub for corrupt foreign businesses and dictators.”
6. “Government surveys are skewed, biased and therefore untrustworthy.”
7. “Lee Kuan Yew’s assurance that the value of HDB flats will never go down was a deliberate falsehood.”
8. “Heng Swee Keat’s finding that the older generation are not ready for a non-Chinese PM is a deliberate falsehood.”
9. “The ruling to reserve the Elected Presidency for Malay candidates was primarily intended to disqualify Tan Cheng Bock.”
10. “Basic military training in National Service had “white horse” companies which ensured preferential treatment to sons of the elite class in Singapore.”
11. “Operation Coldstore (1963) and Operation Spectrum (1987) were wrongful detentions based on false allegations and trumped-up charges.”
12. “The ISD tortured prisoners to extract confessions.”
13. “The current government covets the Christian vote over secular rights.”
14. “The CECA trade agreement has enabled thousands of Indian nationals to secure jobs in Singapore at the expense of local PMETs.”
15. “PAP leaders tacitly endorse smear and hate campaigns conducted by online activism group Fabrications Against The PAP and the IB (Internet Brigade).”
16. “The courts in Singapore favour government-affiliated persons, the wealthy and foreign professionals (particularly Caucasians) over locals and migrant workers.”
17. “The prosecution against Li Shengwu is a personal vendetta brought on by the PM to silence his siblings, nephew and associates.”
18. “The Singapore government practises crony capitalism such as awarding contracts, sponsorships and perks based on affiliations to the PAP.”
19. “The People’s Association, NTUC and Singapore Press Holdings are partisan organisations at the beck and call of the PAP.”
20. “The current Malaysian government under PM Mahathir is engaging in acts of provocation against Singapore.”
See added: “Your answers will go a long way to clarify what can or cannot be said under the proposed Act. On the other hand, your inability or refusal to determine the legality of the above statements will signal your intent to wield these powers arbitrarily.”
Read his open letter in full here:
Send in your scoop to firstname.lastname@example.org