Singapore—In a Zoom conference on Wednesday (Apr 29), Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam pointed out that there have been individuals who are spreading falsehoods online concerning the conditions of the dormitories of migrant workers. They do this to fuel fear and panic, he said, and possibly even violence.
Mr Shanmugam added that these individuals are both locals and foreigners, who have been spreading fake news through pictures, videos and even manipulated images of news channels.
This will be dealt with by the authorities, the Minister said.
One example he cited was that of a video that had made the rounds on social media with an alleged worker from Bangladesh who had committed suicide due to the loss of his job and income. The incident was said to have happened at a Tuas dormitory.
The police, however, declared that the video had not even been recorded locally, and warned against spreading falsehoods, specifically this particular video, which could cause public alarm.
The Minister told the press who attended the video conference that the clip and other fake news had been designed to stir up feelings of fear and panic among the country’s migrant workers, who total around 300,000 in all.
“It’s to create panic. It’s to create unhappiness, anger and hopefully, violence. And also to make our own people, Singaporeans, believe that… these foreign workers are being treated badly. It’s a very malicious type of video,” he told members of the media.
Another example was a video clip showing two men from South Asia in a fight, apparently also in a dormitory. This, he said, actually occurred in Dubai.
“It was taken in a dorm in Dubai some time ago, but people try and pass it off as being taken in Singapore,” the Minister said. Mr Shanmugam added, “Somebody supposedly working in Sembawang Shipyard, telling the Malay-Muslim community you better go and buy up (groceries) because the Chinese are going to go into a panic-buying mode, and there’s a shortage of everything that you can think of.”
Old photos of food given to migrant workers have also been circulating in an attempt to show that they are receiving poor quality food, which Mr Shanmugam refuted by saying Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has addressed this and that the food has improved.
“But don’t get me wrong, we are delivering several hundred thousand meals, three times a day, to the workers. Majority of them tell us that the food quality is good. I’m not going to say to you therefore, every single packet is good, or every single person is happy – not possible.”
He underscored how dangerous these falsehoods are, “They don’t realise that this is like playing with fire… You use falsehoods to foment trouble and make them angry, you don’t know what might happen. There could be a serious law and order situation. This is serious, and we are looking at it seriously.”
He issued a warning that legal action will be taken against criminal behavior. “When it’s clearly criminal, we will charge them.” -/TISG