Fake news have been a convenient excuse for censorship in Singapore. The Singapore government is currently drafting censorship laws to ban independent news media which they brush off as “fake news”. Fake news cause undue panic and sow discord among the communities, they say. The authorities even listed “cases” of fake news: one of a doctored photo of a roof collapse at Punggol Waterway HDB, one of a fake report claiming Minister Vivian Balakrishnan collapsed during a UN summit and another fake report of a Filipino family causing a scuffle at the Indian Thaipusam procession.
Police reports were made in all cases. However, no one is caught. In the case of the Filipino-Thaipusam fake news, the website owners were unable to verify the identity of the source provider. Who have been fabricating these fake news? Nobody knows, but independent news sites like States Times Review must be banned, says so the Singapore government.
Facing declining popularity, the Singapore ruling party is getting worried. In recent years, they have been ramping up on propaganda and cringe-worthy media campaigns like hiring ignorant “social media influencers” to market government policies, a PAP MP cosplaying as a cardboard collector and numerous photos of a PAP MP carrying a basket he alleged was 32kg. The ruling party PAP appears to be very well aware of brewing resentment on the ground and are ploughing money on popularity campaigns.
Due to numerous new undemocratic “safeguards” creatively written by the dictator Prime Minister, the loss of popularity won’t necessary means losing governance. However, Lee Hsien Loong’s legacy is in danger. It is common knowledge that he is beneath his father, Lee Kuan Yew, and that there is hardly anything to celebrate about Singapore under him. In fact, even his party members and supporters are exhorting him to give up his PM seat and appoint a new successor…which of course didn’t go down very well with Lee Hsien Loong. Losing his legacy also means he will not be able to appoint his son Li Hongyi as the next Prime Minister.
However, a more dangerous threat is the loss of political power. Losing one or two Single Member Constituency is fine, but losing a Group Representative Constituency means losing a Minister. The ruling party lost their first-choice Foreign Minister George Yeo in 2011, and they have settle with a Vivian Balakrishnan, whose charge has led to increased tensions with China and other major trading partners. Declining popularity has led to the rise of the opposition and independent news media, with the two sole beneficiaries making the largest progress: Workers’ Party and States Times Review.
The ruling party was shock people rallied behind WP MP Sylvia Lim for not apologising to the government. They are equally flabbergasted to hear that their government state media have to close down a number of papers, and yet an one-man website like States Times Review is seeing 3 million readership a month.
Something needs to be done. How about charging the Workers’ Party of misappropriating town council funds? Or fabricating your own fake news to ban States Times Review? The latter may sound insidious but the fact remains that nobody has been arrested for any of the “serious fake news”. Despite armed with immense IT resources and cooperation from the Internet Service Providers, the police investigations returned nothing. Not even where the fake news fabricator is located or a single detail. Zilch. It is hence apparent the fake news culprit is either incredibly sophisticated and exceptionally well-trained in covering up his tracks, or the PAP government is behind the fake news attacks.
Enforcing censorship is easily done for a dictatorship like Singapore because any law can pass through with 81 PAP votes to 8 opposition votes, as shown in the recent case of GST increase.
Ask yourself: What kind of damage has the fake news generated thus far as compared to train breakdowns and Terminal 5? Who is the sole beneficiary of the new laws on fake news?
How much do you trust the PAP? Would you believe the ruling party dictatorship will not create their own fake news to legislate censorship?
In my view, fake news from dubious sources can easily be stemmed out by verifying a source provider. States Times Review takes pride in only reporting verified news. Sometimes, the verified news media themselves fall victims to fake news providers. Perhaps 0.1% of the total news. Would you terminate the entire publication just because of a single inaccurate news article?
Like the Workers’ Party, States Times Review keeps the Singapore government on it’s toes. We ensure they do not get away with government-sanctioned fake news and half-truth, more commonly known as propaganda. Singaporeans need an independent fact-checker to keep them informed. Relying on Straits Times to check the government is just absurd, you just can’t trust a thief to turn himself in. If not for States Times Review, who else is questioning Terminal 5?