Singapore—Alex Tan Zhi Xiang, the person responsible for the States Times Review blog and who was issued a correction direction by the Government on Thursday, November 29, under Singapore’s law to combat online falsehoods has refused to obey the order, writing in a new blog entry dated November 28 that he was willing to be jailed over the offense.
“I am happy to go to 10 years’ jail for it, so there shall be no compliance. I will defy and resist every unjust law. I swore to bring revenge to the perpetrators for my wrongful convictions and exile from my birth place (sic).”
Mr Tan was directed to correct statements made in a post on the Straits Times Review’s Facebook page, as these were deemed false under Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), which had been passed earlier this year.
The post, which was put up on November 23, involved a post about ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) activist Rachel Ong that had been on the Facebook page of Nussu-NUS Students United. This unofficial student union page of NUS, was taken down by Facebook a few days ago, after it had misquoted Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam “as saying that a political candidate running for elections must resign from all executive positions that they hold in organisations with religious leanings”.
The correction direction issued under POFMA stated that “The Facebook post by the States Times Review (“STR“), published on 23 Nov 2019, contains false statements of fact,” since nobody has been arrested or faced with a charge because of the post from NSU.
The article from States Times Review (STR) claimed that the whistleblower who had exposed Ms Ong’s Christian affiliations had been arrested and was now facing charges; and that the owner of the NSU page that was removed is under police investigation, with Mr Shanmugam having ordered the arrest.
The correction direction made it clear that nobody has been arrested, and it was Facebook itself that removed the NSU page.
However, Mr Tan has refused to follow the correction order. As of November 28, this is the only change he made to the Facebook post: “Update (28 Nov): The Singapore government claimed that no arrest was made. This runs in contrary to the tip off we received.”
He explained his reasons for his non-compliance, writing, “The site is based in Australia and it obeys only Australian jurisdiction. No foreign government orders or censorship demands will be acceded with.”
Mr Tan added, “The abuse of POFMA signals that the General Election is coming and that it is the time for Singaporeans to express their frustrations with the corrupted PAP dictatorship in the ballot.”
This is the second time this week that the country’s law against online falsehoods has been invoked, with the first issued last Monday, November 25, which had to do with a Facebook post from politician Brad Bowyer.
In contrast to Mr Tan, Mr Bowyer, a former PAP member who is now with Progress Singapore Party (PSP) said he had no problem in following the request for correction as it was fair to have both points of view and clarifications and corrections of fact when necessary. -/TISG