Anti-establishment website States Times Review published a jarring announcement on October 8 that they were shutting down because of “false charges of propagating fake news and foreign funding”. Netizens shared their regret over the shut-down but did not have to wait long as the States Times Review mysteriously posted another article seven hours later.
The website’s good-bye letter was written by editor Alex Tan, a Singaporean political activist who helped co-found sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS), which was shut down, and then the Straits Times Review, the naming of which Tan said was “deliberate and a bait” for “the government-controlled Straits Times” to take action against him. He then changed the name to what it is today – States Times Review.
Here is the announcement, which was published on the States Times Review website.
Following recent political development in Singapore, the dictatorship is likely to take down States Times Review on false charges of propagating fake news and foreign funding.
As such, States Times Review will shut down voluntarily by today (Oct 8) ending its 51 months of operations as a news media.
Thank you for your support.
Hereon, the website, domain and its future content will now be the personal blog of Alex Tan.
There was a lot of response to the announcement on the site’s Facebook page, especially from the loyal followers of the States Times Review, who were sad to hear of it closing its doors:
This netizen said that it was about time as it deserved to be shut down:
These users wondered why the supposed Australia-based website was being closed down if it was exempt from Singapore laws (no replies from Tan or anyone else):
And this netizen said it was finally being true to what it really is – a personal blog and not a news website:
Someone decided it was funny to make a “fake news” joke:
The announcement was published on two Facebook pages – States Times Review and States Times Review Uncensored, which seem to be identical except for this note under the “About” section on the Uncensored page –
“Banned from commenting on States Times Review? No worries! Unlike over there, we walk the talk. We don’t block people with views we disagree with!”
Mystery and controversy surround the voluntary shut-down by editor Alex Tan, who said that “following recent political development in Singapore, the dictatorship is likely to take down States Times Review on false charges of propagating fake news and foreign funding”.
It is interesting that the States Times Review cited allegations of false news as the reason they were shutting down when they have boasted of fighting propaganda and fake news for three years.
In April of 2017, Minster of Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam named websites States Times Review and All Singapore Stuff as fake news, which he said could “cause harm to innocent Singaporeans; they can cause unnecessary alarm to the public”.
Just last month, the Government’s Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods made 22 recommendations on how to deal with false news, which emphasised the need for legislation. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter pledged their cooperation to the Singapore Government against the spread of fake news.
Tan said that the intention of the Select Committee on Online Falsehoods “is bright as day: [to] censor the internet”.
“STR had a good 3 years run. I am pragmatic enough to understand that this site would be shut down eventually, somehow some time in the near future. Until then, I would do my best to provide independent news coverage for Singaporeans,” said Tan, in May of this year.
After publishing the announcement that they were shutting down, the States Times Review was mysteriously still running 7 hours later, when they posted a piece titled “WP Trial: KPMG”, which is the last post on the Facebook pages.