Singapore—The Government has issued its fifth correction order under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), this time against Malaysian NGO Lawyers for Liberty’s (LFL) and three other parties: news websites Yahoo Singapore, The Online Citizen, and local activist Kirsten Han.
In a statement released on Wednesday (Jan 22) the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “MHA states categorically that the statement by Malaysia-based Lawyers for Liberty (“LFL”) on 16 January 2020 contains untrue, baseless and preposterous allegations about the use of unlawful methods in judicial executions conducted in Changi Prison.”
MHA stated that the false assertions LFL made included statements on what happens when a rope breaks during a hanging, including the following:
a) The prison officer is instructed to pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him.
b) Meanwhile, another prison officer will apply pressure by pulling the body in the opposite direction.
c) The first officer must then kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force in order to break it.
d) The officers are told to kick the back of the neck because that would be consistent with death by hanging.
e) The officers are told not to kick more than 2 times, so that there will be no tell-tale marks in case there is an autopsy.
f) Strict orders are also given not to divulge the above to other prison staff not involved in executions.”
On the contrary, MHA stated that all executions are carried out in strict compliance with the law and that the Superintendent of the Prison and a medical doctor are present during all executions. Furthermore, as the law dictates, the Coroner always conducts an inquiry 24 hours after executions are done in order to make sure that they were carried out in the proper manner.
The statement further clarified that “the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any ‘special training to carry out the brutal execution method’ as alleged. Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with.”
According to MHA, “LFL has been publishing various falsehoods to seek attention in hopes of getting Malaysian prisoners, who have been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in Singapore, off the death penalty.”
Since the allegations from LFL were spread by The Online Citizen (TOC), Yahoo Singapore’s Malaysian counterpart and activist Kirsten Han, correction directions were also issued by MHA for the posts put up by these parties that contained the falsehoods. “They will be required to carry a correction notice alongside their posts or articles, stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods,” the MHA statement said.
Ms Han wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday morning (Jan 22) that she had received “ a Correction Direction from the POFMA Office, issued by Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam” and that she has been given until 8am on Thursday (Jan 23) to comply with it.
The activist wrote that she had sent a follow-up to the Singapore Prison Service on January 16 after having read the allegations from LFL and again on the following day, but received no response.
An opinion piece by Ms Han regarding POFMA’s correction notices was published in the New York Times on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
More facts on the case can be found here “Corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods posted by Lawyers for Liberty”-/TISG