In the past week, state media TodayOnline ran 3 fake news articles in a propaganda effort to downplay homeless problem in Singapore. All three propaganda material were written by TodayOnline’s reporter Wong Pei Ting, who selected three homeless individuals for interviews.
The first case is a 77-year-old Malaysian who is a Permanent Resident in Singapore. The propaganda writer has this to say for the elderly man who has been homeless for more than 20 years:
“He is not homeless in the strictest sense.”
According to the TodayOnline article, the elderly man has a registered rental room but has chosen to sleep in an unsheltered filthy back alley of a local kopitiam. The elderly man told the state media reporter that he has more than enough food, and that he does not need money.
The second propaganda fake news featured a security guard who earns S$1,000 a month, choosing to sleep over in 24-hours Mcdonalds fast food restaurants. The homeless man in his 50s told the propaganda writer that he, too, has a HDB apartment that he rented out to others to “collect S$1,000 every month”. There is no verification to his claim.
The third propaganda fake news article by TodayOnline features a 57-year-old part-time cleaner who also claimed that he, too, possess a rental flat in northern Singapore Woodlands because it is very far from his workplace, at a condominium in the affluent southern resort island of Sentosa. The elderly man has been living in Bras Basah Complex, near City Hall, for 5 years.
TodayOnline’s parent media corporation, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), is a state-controlled organisation ranked 151th in credibility, collectively with the other state-owned media company Mediacorp. The two legalised newspaper duopoly however are seeing falling readership in recent years, as Singaporeans have wider access to foreign independent news sites like States Times Review.
Since Independence, the ruling party PAP dictatorship has relied on stringent newspaper regulation to issue propaganda fake news, shoring up the reputation of the government in favourable fashion. Propaganda ministry, Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), controls the mainstream newspapers by appointing government proxies in the editorial teams of SPH and Mediacorp.