Screenshot of Minister Chee Hong Tat from CNA video

Speaking at Mediacorp building on the first day of Chinese New Year (Jan 28), Minister of STate for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat told media reporters that Singaporeans should look to “credible and reliable” media like the government broadcaster Mediacorp.

“In the current environment where things happen very fast, it is critical for Singapore to continue to have a national broadcaster that people can turn to as a credible and reliable source of news. I think it’s critical for us to continue to have a credible national broadcaster that Singaporeans can turn to as a credible and reliable source of news, and also to understand what’s happening around them both locally and (in) the region. We have to continue to work with Mediacorp, support capability developments so that we’re able to bring good quality programmes (and) good quality news through different platforms – whether it’s broadcast TV or online.”

The censorship ministry Minister said that the government will continue to influence Mediacorp into tailoring programs that suit the government’s political agenda:

“The Government will continue to work with Mediacorp in various areas such as in the digital space, looking at how to build up capabilities to be able to produce good quality content and news reports to strengthen Mediacorp’s role as Singapore’s national broadcaster. I think Mediacorp has done well in bringing good quality news and entertainment programmes to Singaporeans and now with news and entertainment shifting online, we have to continue to work hard to build up capabilities, on our online digital capabilities, so that we’re able to continue to reach out to Singaporeans through this platform.

Singapore’s only two newspaper companies, Mediacorp and ingapore Press Holdings, were collectively ranked 154th in press credibility and accuracy in 2016. As a result of media content manipulation, Singapore saw the rise of online news media that are threatening the government media’s readership. As more Singaporeans are getting more exposed to unrestricted news by online media, the Singapore government is working to clamp down on these websites not under their control.

In recent years, media censorship laws have tightened. A new law was created in 2013 requiring all websites that report or comment on Singapore news having to place a S$50,000 bond with the censorship ministry, Ministry of Communications and Information. So far, one Australia-based news website, TRS, was forced to shut down and another local website, TOC, faced gag order from the Singapore court. Just last week, the Singapore Ministry of Law signaled its intention to create new laws to criminalise “false information” and “fake news”, where the government will have the full jurisdiction to decide what is true or false.