During his National Day Rally speech that was delivered on Sunday (18 Aug), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that the country’s recently-passed anti-fake news law will “catch” those who spread fake news about the Central Provident Fund (CPF) withdrawal ages.

During his speech, PM Lee confirmed that the Government has decided to adopt the recommendations put forth by Manpower Ministry’s Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers. The group made the following four recommendations:

  1. to raise the Retirement Age from the current age of 62 to 65;
  2. to raise the Re-employment Age from the current age of 67 to 70;
  3. to increase CPF contributions for older workers; and lastly,
  4. to achieve all this in gradual steps, by around 2030.

Today, CPF contribution rates for workers begin to taper down after the workers turn 55. From next year onwards, the Government will raise the CPF contribution rates for workers above the age of 55. Under the new rules, CPF rates will taper down after age 60 and level off after 70.

Asserting that these are “sensible” recommendations, PM Lee said that the Government has accepted the workgroup’s recommendations in full because it feels that many seniors today wish to work longer. He said:

“Most seniors in fact do not want to stop working. We are healthy for longer and living longer, but we do not want to spend more years idle in retirement. We want to stay active and engaged, to feel a sense of worth and purpose.
“Also many of us want to build up a bigger nest egg for when we eventually retire. Therefore, many of us have multiple careers in a lifetime.”

The ruling party chief, however, cautioned that these changes to the retirement age, re-employment age and CPF contribution rates do not constitute changes to the CPF withdrawal ages and policies. He asserted:

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“Let me add one last point here, to be absolutely clear: we are not making any changes to CPF withdrawal policies or to CPF withdrawal ages. You can still take out some money at age 55. And you can still start your CPF payouts from age 65.”

Repeating this once more to the live audience at the National Day Rally, PM Lee said: “All this remains exactly the same. And if you hear anybody tell you something different, please ignore him or her.”

As the audience cheered and applauded, PM Lee warned: “And if it comes to you on WhatsApp from a friend, please delete it and tell your friend. Don’t share with more friends and confuse people because that would be fake news! POFMA will catch you.”

POFMA stands for the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act – an anti-fake news law that was passed in parliament on May 8, after a fierce debate that took place over two days.

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The new law, which provides the government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest, gives ministers the authority to determine what is an online falsehood and whether to take action.

The vote to pass the bill was not unanimous – in the final division, all nine Workers’ Party (WP) parliamentarians rejected the bill while Nominated MPs (NMPs) Anthea Ong, Walter Theseira and Irene Quay abstained from voting. 72 MPs supported the bill.

In May, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam clarified that Singaporeans who unknowingly share fake news in good faith will not be jailed, as he sat down with tech and lifestyle site Vulcan Post to respond to netizens’ concerns on the bill.

Among other questions and concerns, Mr Shanmugam responded to a netizen’s query about whether her parents might go to jail under the new law since they might unknowingly share fake news.

The Minister replied that there is “no criminal liability” and “no civil liability” for those who share fake news “in good faith”. He said:

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“If you receive something and in good faith you forward it, as most people do, you share, you like it – no problem. There is no criminal liability, there is no civil liability. At most, you will receive a correction.

“So you don’t even need to worry about jail and so on. That is for people who are sitting there, actively creating the false news. Sometimes to make money, sometimes to create trouble, you put out a falsehood – those are the only people, most people are not like that.”

Law Minister says there is no criminal liability for netizens who share fake news in good faith