The Ministry of National Development (MND), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) each issued a correction order under the protection from online falsehood manipulation act (POFMA) against Yeoh Lam Keong, former chief economist at Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, and opposition politician Goh Meng Seng respectively on Friday.
MND’s POFMA — Yeoh Lam Keong and The Online Citizen
MND had instructed the POFMA office to issue the correction directions against Yeoh and the socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC) for publishing ‘false and misleading’ statements regarding HDB’s deficits and Singapore’s past reserves.
In a statement released on Friday, MND said Yeoh falsely conveyed that HDB will not incur a loss of about $270 million from the Central Weave @ AMK BTO project and that the government is free to sell state land at nominal or much lower cost than its fair market value.
Yeoh published two Facebook posts on Oct 4 referring to MND’s Minister Desmond Lee’s reply to Progress Singapore Party MP Leong Mun Wai’s parliamentary question. TOC published an article on the same day echoing the points raised by Yeoh.
TOC published a second article the next day headlined, ‘Singapore’s reserves substantially profits from $500m land sales in AMK BTO’. It claimed that minister Lee’s reply alluded to ‘profits being made from the land sale by the government’ and that “such profits would go to the reserves.’ MND further said that the headline has falsely conveyed that the Government’s sale of land to HDB for the AMK BTO project will lead to an increase in Singapore’s reserves.
“The losses incurred by HDB are accurate and real. For the Central Weave @ AMK project, HDB will incur an estimated development loss of about $250 million, or about $270 million after taking into account housing grants,” posted MND on Facebook.
MND also said that state land is part of Singapore’s past reserves and said the reason it can’t be sold at a ‘lower cost than its fair market value’ as suggested by Yeoh.
“The government cannot sell state land at nominal or much lower cost than its fair market value without the President’s approval, as doing so would constitute a draw on past reserves,” explained MND.
“When state land is disposed of at fair market value, there is no addition to the past reserves but a conversion of one type of asset (land) to another (cash). For the Central Weave @ AMK BTO project, HDB will pay the government fair market value for the land, estimated to be about $500 million. This money will be paid into the past reserves, but does not result in a net increase in the past reserves.”
MOH’s POFMA — Goh Meng Seng, Thailand Medical News and HardwareZone
The other POFMA on Friday order was issued by the health ministry against veteran opposition leader Goh Meng Seng of the People’s Power Party, Thailand Medical News and HardwareZone.
According to MOH, there were false and misleading statements in an article titled, ‘‘BREAKING! Singapore Is Under Attack By The New SARS-CoV-2 XBB Recombinant Variant, With COVID-19 Infections And Hospitalizations Rising. Thailand Could Be Next!’
It was first published by the Thai website on Oct 9 and subsequently shared by Goh and was also found in a forum thread the next day.
The article claimed that increased disease severity of COVID-19 is becoming a common occurrence, even among the fully vaccinated. The same article also claimed that mortuaries, funeral parlours, and crematoria are facing a ‘pile up’ in cases. MOH has refuted these claims as false.
“There has been no evidence of XBB subvariant causing more severe illness than previous variants. In fact, our local data in the last two weeks shows that XBB cases are estimated to have a 30% lower risk of hospitalisation compared to Omicron BA.5 variant cases. MOH also did not observe increases in COVID-19 deaths over the past month,” said MOH.
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