Singapore’s Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that the Singapore Government is not deemed as a “person” under the section 15 of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA). Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon was the minority, dissenting voice in the split judgment delivered by the three-judges-court in the case between Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Dr Ting Choon Meng/The Online Citizen.
The Straits Times (ST) in reporting the Court of Appeal’s judgment, headlined it “Is Government a person? Court rules on anti-harassment law provision”. In publishing the report in its Facebook ST captioned it: “Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon says the Government does fall within the scope of “person” under the law and is able to apply under the provision for relief.” These has drawn sharp criticisms from netizens.
Facebook user Fabian Terh commenting on ST FB post said: “only a world-class, quality publication like Straits Times will publish an ambiguous article title on Facebook with a deceptive post that focuses on the minority dissenting judgement, and not the majority.”
Mandi Tan noted that the post was “clickbait by referencing the dissenting judgment”, and said: “the actual decision was that the Government cannot invoke an anti-harassment law that allows persons to stop the publication of false statements against them.” She added: “Not sure the pageviews are worth this way of posting news.”
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