Photo of K Shanmugam at the UN from UN

Angry at multiple reports criticizing him and the Singapore government, Law Minister K Shanmugam vowed to “review” laws to take actions against States Times Review for “harming Singaporeans” with “fake news”:

“The Government is seriously considering how to combat fake news as current laws are limited in tackling the issue. We will announce the position when the review is completed. A review is needed as fake news can have real consequences. They can cause harm to innocent Singaporeans; they can cause unnecessary alarm to the public; emergency resources may be diverted from legitimate emergencies and the reputation of honest Singapore businesses may be unfairly damaged.”

The Law Minister then deny that his intention is politically-motivated and singled out States Times Review and All Singapore Stuff for “peddling fake news”:

“The Government is not concerned with trivial, factual inaccuracies, but with falsehoods that can cause real harm… Last August, the States Times Review claimed a near-zero turnout for former president SR Nathan’s funeral, and that kindergarten kids were forced to attend, in an attempt to paint him as an unpopular president. The whole purpose is to purvey falsehoods, mislead the public and render truth completely irrelevant.”

Minister Shanmugam also said that the websites could be “offensive weapons” used by foreign countries and claimed that he has “enough evidence” to prove so:

“There is a much more serious dimension to all of this. Fake news today, we must assume can be used as an offensive weapon by foreign agencies and foreign governments… to get into the public mind, to destabilise the public, to psychologically weaken them. That’s a very serious threat and it will be naive for us to believe that governments or state agencies don’t engage in this. There is enough evidence that they do… The time has come for us not to simply rebut but to actually actively deal with it — so that the people who seek to profit from such conduct will actually feel the pain of it. We are looking at it and something will be done.””