Photo of K Shanmugam at the UN from UN

The Singapore government passed a new law today (Mar 21) giving Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam to impose a new media blackout order. Anyone taking photos or texting under the new Act called “Public Order and Safety (Special Powers)” will be jailed up to 2 years and fined up to S$20,000.

There will also be a media ban, and only the 151st-ranking state media will be allowed to report the incidents according to Minister Josephine Teo, who insist there is no information blackout:

“Selected media outlets and personnel will be allowed to access incident areas even when such a stop order is issued. It is not an information blackout throughout a terror incident, as some have portrayed it.”

The new Act will be ordered by Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in any “police incident” as he wishes, and enforce the special police order indefinitely via a monthly renewal clause in the new law.

During the enforcement, police will be allowed to detain anyone without trial for questioning for as long as they like. Failure to comply will also result in a 2 year jail and S$20,000 fine.

The police will also be allowed to use lethal force like machine guns against any unarmed civilian, and fire at anyone they considered a threat, including public protesters.

Civilians can however refuse to help the police, but their lives would be in danger as the police has absolute power.

Minister Josephine Teo claimed that the ruling party dictatorship will question their very own PAP Minister K Shanmugam for any wrongdoing:

“There is no sinister reason for this. Even without the provision, members can question the minister if they believe an activation order should not have been issued, or should be annulled. Parliament has not been, and is not prevented from holding ministers to account for decisions or policies, just because there are no specific provisions in the law.”