Logo of Singapore Police from Facebook

In a Facebook published by the Singapore Police, the police threatened to “take action” against online news site theonlinecitizen (TOC) for publishing an inaccurate article. Yesterday (Mar 17), TOC published a letter from a submission titled “80-ye­ar-old wheelchair bou­nd man accused of mot­orcycle theft by Sing­apore Police”.

The police said that they merely interviewed the wheelchair bound elderly at his home, and did not arrest or lay any charges against him as TOC’s letter alleged. The police however did not specify what “action” they will take and merely resorted to threat of arrest as the first response to fake news.

You may view the post by the Singapore Police here:

“FALSE ALLEGATIONS AGA­INST POLICE PUBLISHED­ BY THE ONLINE CITIZE­N
­The Police are aware ­of the article “80-ye­ar-old wheelchair bou­nd man accused of mot­orcycle theft by Sing­apore Police” and the­ allegations against ­the Police officers o­n the “The Online Cit­izen” website.
­The Police would like­ to clarify that the ­allegations against t­he Police officers in­ the article are unfo­unded. On 17 January ­2017, the Police offi­cers had responded to­ a case of motor vehi­cle theft at Mayflowe­r Terrace. They inter­viewed a wheelchair b­ound man at his home ­as part of the investigations. He was neve­r accused of being in­volved in any motor vehicle theft, nor was­ he asked to provide ­a statement at the Po­lice station.
­The Police urge the p­ublic to refrain from­ circulating unsubsta­ntiated reports. Whil­e we will investigate­ all allegations of m­isconduct, we will al­so not hesitate to ta­ke action against per­sons who deliberately­ make false allegations.

This is not the first time reader-submission letters land a news site in troubles with the authoritarian police state. Just two days ago, Straits Times published a letter by a reader claiming that her 73-year-old elderly mother was handcuffed and wore leg restraints over a minor court appearance offense. The police then dismissed the letter’s allegations but did not state that they will take action against state media Straits Times.

The Singapore Police is however opportunistic when it comes to charging non-government-sanctioned news site. In 2015, The Real Singapore was forced to shut down after a letter submission fictitiously claimed that a filipino family lodged a noise complaint against Indians during a religious celebration. However when government-backed newspapers publishes a fake report, no action is taken.

Due to numerous examples of the Singapore Police’s selective persecution against independent news media, States Times Review do not publish letters submission, except those already published by the state media as an “insurance policy” against the government.