Photo of K Shanmugam from TodayOnline

In the latest propaganda article by state media TodayOnline, the Ministry of Law said that fake news is a security issue that interfere with Singapore’s politics.

“There have been many examples both locally and overseas of fake news being circulated, especially on social media platforms and private messaging services. Fake news has become an issue of national security. We have seen how it has been used to interfere in the domestic affairs and politics of other countries.”

The Ministry of Law also added that they are going to introduce new media censorship laws to stem the circulation of fake news, but refrained from setting a timeline or defining “fake news”.

According to recent prosecution cases filed by the Singapore government, any news articles that voice discontentment or not write the government favourable light is deemed as “fake news”. Law Minister K Shanmugam has earlier this year singled out three popular independents news sites – States Times Review, The Online Citizen and All Singapore Stuff – as “fake news”, and vowed to “make them feel the pain”.

In TodayOnline’s article, several “media experts” – mostly right-wing academics from government-controlled education institutes like the NUS, NTU and SUTD – were consulted and all agreed with the government that fake news should warrant a jail sentence. However, the “media experts” said that the government’s hands are tied if the website is based overseas:

“It could be an onerous task to enforce any new laws in this regard, especially when foreign parties are involved.”
NUS Law Professor David Tan who support the draconian Sedition Act said that the dictatorial regime’s laws are still not strict enough to address fake news:

“There are different types of fake news… The ongoing review should address the entire spectrum, but enforcement is going to be a Herculean labour.”

CEO of government-linked research company BlackBox, David Black, called the fake news that criticise the Singapore government as “propaganda”:

“The truth is that self-regulation and media literacy are ineffective tools against propaganda whose sole aim is to manipulate the truth.”

Government agency Media Literacy Council (MLC) Chairman Lock Wai Han told the state media reporters that perpetrators of fake news are only interested in making money:

“It often mimics real news and is sometimes created with the intention of generating revenue through advertising that depends on viewer clicks.”