Singapore invokes ‘fake news’ law for 1st time

Fake News

Singapore, Nov 25 : Singapore on Monday invoked its controversial law against fake news for the first time to order correction of a Facebook post by Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Brad Bowyer.

The Facebook post refers to an investment in the Amaravati city project in Andhra Pradesh and Singtel’s investment in Bharti Airtel.

“In a recent Facebook post, Mr Brad Bowyer implied that the Government was involved in individual investment decisions of GIC and Temasek. He was issued with a Correction Direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (Pofma) Act on 25 November 2019,” the Ministry of Finance, Singapore said in a statement

Bowyer’s November 13 Facebook “contains clearly false statements of fact, and undermines public trust in the Government”, the statement said.

Singapore invoked the new law as Bowyer’s Facebook post implied that the government controls Temasek and GIC’s commercial decisions, which is false.

“GIC and Temasek operate on a commercial basis, and the Government is not involved in their individual investment decisions,” the statement added.

In his Facebook post, Bowyer said “we also saw the recent canning of the Amaravati city project part of the S$4 billion already dumped into Andhra Pradesh by GLCs and related parties so India has not been so good an investment choice after all…”

On its fact-checking website Factually, the government said that the post contains implicit factual assertions that a substantial part of S$4 billion invested in Andhra Pradesh was put into the Amaravati project; and S$4 billion has been poorly invested (“dumped”) by Government-linked companies (“GLCs”) and related parties in Andhra Pradesh.

“These are false,” it added.

Bowyer had put up a correction note at the top of his Facebook post saying that the post “contains false statements of fact”, along with a link to an article providing the correct facts, The Straits Times reported.

The Singapore Parliament passed Pofma in May and it took effect on October 2.

The legislation allows the government to decide what information is listed as false based on two criteria: when a false statement or announcement is issued, and when this action is considered to be of public interest.

The legislation was passed amid criticism from opponents and activists who consider it an attack on freedom of expression.

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