Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information, Chee Hong Tat, today (July 29) issued an opinion article slamming “fake news” for causing social unrest and eroding the trust in the ruling party PAP government:
“The dangers of fake news go beyond declining trust in the media. There are numerous examples of how fake news has damaged reputations of individuals and organisations, led to social unrest and affected election outcomes.”
The propaganda minister said that the Law Ministry will write a new law demanding Facebook and Google to take down content they deem as “fake news”. Minister Chee Hong Tat also added that the government will do more to make Singaporeans trust the government-controlled media like Straits Times:
“In addition, we must support the growth of trusted news sources that the public can turn to if they want accurate and reliable information. These trusted sources include the mainstream media and public broadcasters. They also include credible online sites that have established a good reputation for accurate and objective reporting.”
Without providing any statistics or survey result, Minister Chee Hong Tat also claimed that Singaporeans still trust the government-regulated media:
“We have been fortunate that public trust and satisfaction with the media in Singapore have remained relatively high compared with other countries. In such an environment, local news agencies Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings have done well to remain a leading source of daily news for many Singaporeans.”
However, the propaganda minister did not mention who will decide what is “fake news”. According to Law Minister K Shanmugam, any news site that criticises the ruling party government PAP is “fake news”. The hooligan-like Law Minister singled out States Times Review as fake news and threatened to “make it feel the pain”.
Singapore’s mainstream media lacks objective quality and in-depth context because of heavy intervention from the ruling party government. Despite being set up only in 2015, States Times Review’s popularity soar as the quality of Straits Times and mainstream media decline. The government-controlled media regularly publishes fake news and give inaccurate assessments of live events like during a train breakdown, where delay timing were under-reported.
There are existing laws to jail and fine perpetrators of fake news, but the Singapore Police turn a blind eye to fake news published by the mainstream media, with no action ever taken against the SPH-Mediacorp conglomerate.
States Times Review is based in Sydney Australia and complies only with local New South Wales state and Australian laws. Singapore’s specific media censorship laws like Cooling Off day and S$50,000 bond for media reporting do not apply on States Times Review, infuriating the ruling party dictatorship.