Photo of Ryan Lim and Janis Berzins

As part of the government’s next move to shut down independent news websites, state media Straits Times invited a right-wing academic from a little-known country in Europe to express support for media censorship.

Styled as “fake news media expert”, the director of the Centre for Security and Strategic Research at the National Defence Academy of Latvia, Janis Berzins, was invited to Singapore said that independent news websites are the latest military weapon to debase the people’s trust in government:

“Fake news is the new frontier of military operations. The best army is the one that wins without going to the fight. So you spread misinformation, dilute nationalist sentiments, debase the trust of the citizens – whatever it takes to break the social contract between people.”

Straits Times wrote that Britain is a victim of fake news that led to the exit of Europe:

“Fake news reports have already been flagged for influencing Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union and the American presidential election last year.”

The Latvian right-wing academic then suggest that Singapore impose heavy punishments for creators of independent news websites – which are collectively flagged as fake news by Law Minister K Shanmgam earlier.

“Laws are needed to halt the spread of such falsehoods, he said, citing a landmark Bill by German legislators which, if passed, will compel social media outlets to quickly remove fake news which incite hate or face fines of up to €50 million (S$74m).”

Janis Berzins also said corporations can not be trusted as reliable control of independent news websites:

“German officials had provided data showing that Facebook rapidly deleted just 39 per cent of the criminal content it was notified about, while Twitter acted quickly to delete only 1 per cent of posts cited in user complaints. Corporates and governments aren’t on the best of terms. The intention isn’t to apply the fine, but to convince these guys to react faster.”

Another “fake news media expert” Straits Times invited, is QED Consulting’s founding partner, Ryan Lim. Ryan Lim suggested “friendly countries” like Australia to comply Singapore laws and collaborate to arrest the editor of States Times Review who is based in Australia:

“Governments could combat fake news more effectively is by collaborating with friendly states. Friendly nations form some sort of compact to take action against those residing in one country but disseminating fake news about another. States Times Review – a sociopolitical site founded by Mr Alex Tan Zhixiang, who operates outside of Singapore. Among other things, the site had suggested that the late S R Nathan was an unpopular president by claiming that there was near-zero turnout during his state funeral last year. The cyber world has no borders, so we need to work together to bring people to task.”

You may view Straits Times’ article here.