Speaking at an Asia-Pacific defence dialogue today (Jan 29), Minister Ong Ye Kung claimed that “fake news” is undermining Singapore’s “democracy” and unity. Calling it “propaganda”, the Minister said that the Singapore dictatorship will come out with new censorship laws to ban whichever news the government deems as “fake news”:
“The problem is increasingly undermining social fabric and national unity. Propaganda has never been this powerful, and automated. The only difference is that it is now used, including by foreign players, against national institutions. Countries are recognising that there is a need to come up with legislation and safeguards in the short term to combat fake news. For instance, France is looking to grant judges emergency powers to remove or block content deemed to be fake news during sensitive periods such as elections. In Singapore, a Select Committee has been set up to look into the problem of deliberate online falsehoods and recommend strategies to deal with it.”
Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the Singapore government will represent Singaporeans to “fight” fake news with “regulations”:
“Today, media as we know has been hijacked by something much more unpredictable and volatile. The fundamental condition for democracy has been weakened. Society will fight back, to restore our democratic institutions. This will be done through regulation, a likely drastic reconfiguration of the media industry, and an evolution of societies to become more discerning of what’s real and what’s false and malicious.”
The PAP Minister who is tipped to be the next Prime Minister said that the Singapore domestic politics is unstable only because of fake news:
“This is not conventional warfare, but a battle within all our societies. But it has important implications for global stability, as dysfunctional domestic politics created by misinformation and falsehoods, means messy external relations too.”
The Singapore government is losing popularity among it’s voters due to catastrophic policies and worsening standard of living. The dictatorship however refuse to adopt responsibility and instead blamed the media for “sensationalising” and publishing fake news. One example was in July 2017, when Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan chided the mainstream media for being a “tabloid” when they cover train breakdown incidents. Independent news site States Times Review also received legal threats directly from the Law Minister for reporting neutrally on current affairs.