After losing credibility over it’s baseless attack on Harvard University, member of the government’s Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, Minister Janil Puthucheary, revealed that they are still at a loss of what to do. Despite ending the public hearings in April, the PAP Minister said that the committee is still “mulling” over new censorship laws and their “recommendations” would only be out by end-2018:
“We are still mulling over recommendations to ensure its eventual report addresses the views and concerns of stakeholders involved. Our key intent is to preserve as much as possible the opportunity for the type of discourse we feel is really very important for the resilience of our society. We are sharpening and shaping our response to make sure we hit the right point where it remains possible for people to come into the space and generate new products; it remains possible for journalists to engage in their profession with an increasing degree of seriousness and confidence that their platforms will be trusted; that there is room for disagreement, satire, comedy and commentary. We want to get the right blending point on this, so that’s why we’re taking our time. The Select Committee’s report, which will be presented to Parliament for debate, will be out later this year.”
Speaking at the forum with the Minister are other PAP-affiliated speakers including new PAP candidate Alvin Tan and state media reporters Cherian George and Warren Fernandez.
Singapore’s chief fake news propaganda editor, Warren Fernandez, took the mic and suggested a more stringent censorship where Singaporeans who share “fake news” be punished alongside “fake news creators”:
“It’s important that we get a handle on the meaning of fake news. While there might be gaps in existing legislation, any new laws introduced should be targeted at holding content distributors responsible for the content they spread. A significant and legitimate concern is that if the proposed law is too broad and sweeping, it might constrain the ability of news organisations to operate.”
Minister Janil Puthucheary then mongered fear over the freedom of speech in the online space, claiming that it has been “weaponised”:
“We have for a long time had issues around race, religion and language. We will continue to hold this stance. But we may have to consider issues of national security and defence as the space has become weaponised over time.”