Photo of K Shanmugam from AFP

Singapore’s only elected opposition, the Workers’ Party (WP), wrote in a press release yesterday (Jan 23) saying that the Ministry of Law sidestepped their question on the harassment act.

The series of exchange first started  when the Court of Appeal ruled that the Singapore government is not a “person” and hence cannot be protected from “harassment”, despite the Attorney General’s claims.

Read: Singapore government lost appeal, disallowed to invoke harassment act

On Sunday (Jan 22), the WP questioned the government if they are going to amend the existing Protection From Harassment Act (POHA) to introduce a new legislation that will protect the government from alleged harassment.

The Ministry of Law responded saying that the WP has “misrepresented the issues” and that the government is seeking criminalisation of “false information”, instead of protection from harassment. The Ministry of Law also took a potshot saying that the WP should support the government, “unless they profit” from the dissemination of falsehood.

Read: Law Ministry flip-flops: Government to criminalise “false information”

The above response was met with another enquiry by the WP yesterday (Jan 23), who said that the government did not explain their intention whether if they are indeed going to amend the act or introduce new legislation. The WP also asked why was there no clarification made (that if the government can be harassed) when the law was approved in 2014:

“MinLaw’s entire statement on Jan 22 focused on the distinction between false information and harassment, splitting hairs and diverting attention with bad insinuations about the Workers’ Party’s good faith in raising this issue.”

The Singapore government is currently clamping down on criticisms through stringent censorship of media especially on the internet. The authoritarian government is moving to criminalise “false information” – at their discrepancy what is “false” or “true” – to silent critics and shut down independent news sites. The ruling party PAP has a 83 MP seat majority as opposed to 6 opposition seats held by the WP, hence effectively able to pass any law they written.