Following negative reports and increasing criticisms on the ruling party government, Law Minister K Shanmugam today (June 19) vowed to ban “fake news eroding the trust of the Government” starting next year:
“The Government has to maintain a strong climate of trust, and be able to counter misinformation spread online as well. The authorities must be equipped to deal with current challenges…If the distrust becomes deep-rooted, people will have serious doubts about the institutions, about leadership, about governance.”
Speaking at a news forum organised by Straits Times, the corrupted Law Minister criticised social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter for not doing enough assisting the PAP government on media censorship:
“Misinformation is more serious now than before, and is an “easy and effective” way to advance agendas…The media plays an important role in being a trusted source of news, while companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter “bear a significant responsibility” in tackling misinformation too. Some of these firms have given their voluntary commitment to remove reported hate speech within 24 hours, but this may not be enough.”
Minister K Shanmugam also lamented that his government’s hands are tied and there is nothing much he can do against fake news, hence the need for more media censorship laws:
“There are limited remedies to deal with falsehoods under current laws…We know what the end point should be. It should be to delegitimise fake news, help people identify what is and what is not fake news, and to deal with the perpetrators of fake news.”
Singapore has one of the strictest media censorship laws in the world, with one particular law ruling that any person writing commentaries on current affair news need to register a S$50,000 bond with the propaganda ministry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and comply any take-down order within 24 hours. The ruling party dictatorship under Lee Hsien Loong also often abuse the defamation lawusits and the Sedition Law to arrest anyone who criticises the government. Anyone charged under these laws are often thrown into prison. In 2015, Ai Takagi was jailed 10 months for writing articles critical of the government on her website, The Real Singapore. The website was forced to shut down after she was arrested.
Earlier in April, States Times Review was singled out along with two other websites for propagating fake news. STR has been especially critical of the Law Minister in the recent tussle between Lee Hsien Yang and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the corrupted minister intend to shut down STR so the government-controlled mainstream media can propagate pro-government fake news propaganda without obstruction. Singapore’s mainstream media has one of the worst reputation for credibility and independence, and it is ranked 151th in 2016.