Singapore Management University’s law don, Eugene Tan, called for the government to ban online sites like theonlinecitizen and States Times Review claiming that the sites pass off falsehoods as “journalism”.
“With dozens of online platforms passing off falsehoods as “citizen journalism”, individuals are increasingly empowered by social media to harass organisations, and the possibility of amending the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha) to include entities such as the Government is a welcome one.”
Calling the social media scene “pervasive”, Law professor Eugene Tan claimed that the Singapore government have to waste “limited resources” defending itself from the “falsehoods” published in these websites:
“Otherwise, a public body might have to spend an inordinate amount of time and other limited resources to defend itself … In today’s world of pervasive social media, the ability of an individual to harass an organisation is real and the real threat posed by false information cannot be underestimated.”
The Law professor call for the Protection of Harassment Act (POHA) to be amended, or enact new censorship laws to “protect” and ban news information not endorsed by the government:
“It is not a question of whether entities require protection from harassment and falsehoods, but about protecting public bodies from having to devote resources in what may amount to a war of attrition, and ensure as little misinformation as possible. There is little social value in protecting speech designed to harass or perpetuate falsehoods.”
Singapore criminal lawyer Josephus Tan told state media TodayOnline to call for new laws to allow the government to sue citizens – the first in the world:
“It is not clear if the Derbyshire principle — a common law principle in Britain and other countries that bars a public body from suing a citizen for defamation so as not to discourage free speech — is applicable here. That is one reason the Attorney-General’s Chambers took the route of POHA in this case.”